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Polypharmacy: getting the balance right

As part of the 2022/23 AHSN Network ‘Polypharmacy: getting the balance right’ programme, the Oxford AHSN is supporting healthcare professionals to identify patients at potential risk from polypharmacy and to support better conversations about medicines.

You can learn more about what we are doing and why here or watch this short introductory video by the national Clinical Lead, Clare Howard.

How will we do this?

The programme is based across three pillars which is underpinned by Polypharmacy Community of Practice groups

The Oxford AHSN is developing Polypharmacy Communities of Practice (CoP) with Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) Integrated Care Board (ICB); Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICB and Frimley ICB. These are part of the national AHSN Network polypharmacy programme.

Each polypharmacy community of practice will:
• bring together individuals and organisations with a common interest in helping to reduce overprescribing,
and improve medicines safety and people’s health
• foster a system-wide culture of collaboration, shared information, learning and innovation

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICB Community of Practice- register here

Frimley ICB Community of Practice –  register here

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICB Community of Practice –  register here


Pillar 1: Population Health Management

Using data (NHS BSA Polypharmacy Comparators) to understand Primary Care Network risks and identify patients for prioritisation for a Structured Medication Review.

Polypharmacy: understanding the data webinars

The programme is encouraging routine use of the NHSBSA Polypharmacy Comparators to assess patients in high-risk groups. The NHSBSA Polypharmacy Prescribing Comparators tool is available to all GPs and pharmacists. Over 900 delegates have joined these webinars since April 2022 – the next webinar date to follow.

Future dates for Understanding the Data Webinars, reserve your space now: 


Pillar 2: Education & Training

Investing in clinical leaders – AHSN polypharmacy clinical leads and expert polypharmacy trainers and delivery of local polypharmacy action learning sets (ALSs) to upskill the primary care workforce to be more confident about stopping unnecessary medicines. The ALS model was originally developed and piloted by Wessex AHSN and supported by Health Education England (HEE).

Polypharmacy Action Learning Set (ALS) future dates 


The Polypharmacy ALS is an evidence-based learning model which helps GPs, Pharmacists and other Healthcare Professionals who undertake prescribing, medication reviews and de-prescribing on a regular basis, to understand the complex issues surrounding stopping inappropriate medicines safely.  The course is three half day online interactive sessions held over two months using zoom conference facilities. Register your interest for future cohorts.

Polypharmacy QI Posters

Following each ALS, delegates complete a quality improvement project to address problematic polypharmacy in their workplace. You can view the posters here.

Lunchtime masterclass


Free training supports safe use of medicines

Health and social care professionals are being offered a free 90-minute course to reduce the risk of harm relating to medicines.

The polypharmacy training is for non-prescribing staff in patient-facing roles and will focus particularly on how to safely stop inappropriate medicines.

The online session is organised by Health Innovation Oxford and Thames Valley with the Integrated Care Boards serving Frimley, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire West, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Multiple dates available, please see booking details below.

 The Training will also help primary care networks (PCNs) deliver the medicines optimisation elements of the Directed Enhanced Services and Investment and Impact Fund contracts, as well as meeting recommendation 18 of the National Overprescribing Review report.

Sign up here:


Pillar 3: Public Behaviour Change

Local testing and evaluation of public-facing initiatives to change public perceptions of prescribing and encourage patients to open up about medicine concerns and expectations

Me and My Medicines’ is a campaign led by patients and supported by clinical staff to help people raise concerns and use their medicines better, to help everyone benefit from more effective and safer care.

This is currently being piloted across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICB; Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICB and Frimley ICB.

Sign up for the ‘Supporting patients to get the most out of their SMRs’ webinar on the 16th July 2024


Helping patients take their medicines safely: reasonable adjustments

We have created a suite of a free resources to help patients take their medicines safely. These resources focus on improving understanding of the range of, and process for selecting reasonable adjustments for patients who may be encountering challenges with taking multiple medicines. Resources include a video, decision tree poster and assessment form for use by healthcare professionals. We have also created a short video for patients, carers and families.


For more information please contact or

Or you can contact the ICB polypharmacy leads: