May 142019

We catch up with Paul Gimson, Medicine Safety Programme Lead, 1000 Lives Improvement to talk about the plans for the Medicine Safety programme.

1.What is your background in medicine safety?

I’m a pharmacist by background so medicines safety is in my blood! I’ve worked in community pharmacy and as a prescribing advisor in local health boards. I’ve was the lead for Medicines Safety at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

  1. What are the plans for the Medicine Safety Programme?

The programme is being established in response to both the World Health Organisations Global Safety Challenge ‘Medication without Harm’ and the Welsh Governments Long Term plan for Health and Social Care: A Healthier Wales. We aspire to make Wales the safest place in the World to take medicines.

Our programme will be focussed on addressing four key challenges;

  • Systems – how can we improve the systems and processes that underpin prescribing, safety and medicines management? We will focus on prescribing practices, interfaces of care and applying the evidence base that exists around systems thinking and safety.
  • Harm – how can we tackle specific areas of harm that we know contribute significantly to avoidable admissions to hospital? Areas of concern include admissions due to falls, bleeds and acute kidney injury.
  • Prudent Prescribing – how can we apply the principles of prudent healthcare to prescribing? How can we improve areas such as polypharmacy, medication review and antimicrobial resistance? Can we make better use of the multidisciplinary team?
  • Person Centred-Care – how can we support a more person-centred approach to medicines safety in Wales? How can we best apply the principles of co-production and behavioural change psychology to medicines use?
  1. How do you plan to achieve the key outcomes of the programme?

As the title suggests it will be a challenge, and it won’t happen overnight. I have found myself wondering –what are the elements of a high performing medicines safety system. Is it better use of data? Is it better learning from error? Is it improved multidisciplinary working? What does any of his look like in an improved system?

In order to find out we plan to bring together the improvement expertise of 1000Lives with the knowledge and experience of those in NHS who have an interest in medicines safety, as well as the public, to co-produce a series of high impact interventions that have the potential to transform medicines safety in Wales. We will then test those interventions with a view to spreading them nationally via a national Medicines Safety Collaborative.

  1. Why are you excited to be working on it?

I have been involved in medicines safety all of my career. For me personally it is an opportunity to apply all I have learnt about improvement to a topic that I am passionate about. By bringing together pharmaceutical and improvement expertise we can make a real difference to peoples’ lives through safer and more effective use of medicines.

Paul wants to hear from you – what ideas do you have to improve medicines safety? What projects are you involved in that you want to share? If you want to get involved then please contact him at