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Medicines Safety Assurance Tool (MSAT)


National organisations such as the Nationals Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency share safely alerts and good practice guides to minimise harm from medication errors. Commissioners and clinical safety leads need systematic ways of assessing medicines safety and engaging with providers across their population. There is considerable scope in primary care and across the interface with secondary care for consistent and assured implementation of safety alerts.


The Medicines Safety Assurance Tool (MSAT) was commenced by the NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU Medicines Management and Optimisation (MMO) team in 2014, and has been developed as an easy-to-use method for Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to systematically capture safety alerts, enable commissioners to document actions locally and enable implementation to be monitored to support assurance on their responsibilities for minimising patient risk.

Delivery of this tool is via a standardised process under the direction of the MMO safety lead pharmacist. The MMO safety team carry out systematic horizon scanning of medicines safety information from a defined list of resources each month. The MSAT is peer reviewed to ensure high quality standards and is produced monthly.

Organisations can then use the tool to confirm or identify actions for implementation. Actions are agreed through the local medicines or quality committee and recorded on the tool. To support organisations, we propose actions for consideration which can be adapted to their usual processes. The tool can then be used to monitor implementation as part of a periodic review appropriate to their organisational needs.


The MSAT is designed for use by safety leads whether in ICBs, PCNs or GP Practices. The MSAT is distributed by email on a monthly basis to several designated safety lead across several organisations and contains the safety alerts received in the last month as well as the previous 11 months.

The MSAT has been used by the Wirral Place Medicines Management Committee to support 46 practices serving a population of 337,000 people.  From April 2022 to March 2023, 49 safety alerts were identified, with all safety alerts being tabled for review at the medicines management meeting. 100% of these were published to the prescribing newsletter, 31% were added to the Prescribing Support Tool, 12% were cascaded to other Allied HealthCare Professionals, and 8% resulted in Clinical Audits/Clinical System searches.

Implementation Of MSAT In Wirral
“We regularly review the MSAT at the Wirral Medicines Management Committee. It is a good way to keep up to date with safety issues, and is a starting point for safety review work at practices. The MSAT highlights safety issues which the Medicines Management Team can then take forward and action”.

Dr Diane Atherton, Prescribing Lead GP, Wirral Place, Cheshire and Merseyside ICB