What is iSIMPATHY?

iSIMPATHY is an EU funded project running until March 2023 across the three jurisdictions of Northern Ireland, Scotland and the border areas of the Republic of Ireland. The project ensures the best and most sustainable outcomes with medication use in patients taking multiple medicines. iSIMPATHY helps enable patients to lead healthy and active lives by supporting both them and clinicians to define and achieve realistic goals of drug treatment through medicine reviews.

The project is training healthcare professionals who will deliver 15,000 effective medicine reviews by the end of March 2023. The project delivers the key principles of the WHO Third Global patient safety challenge, medication without harm. The project is delivering a systems approach that is scalable through cross-border shared learning.

The iSIMPATHY project is delivering the following:

  • Recruiting and training 10.5 (WTE) Pharmacists to deliver medicine reviews.
  • Training 120 additional health professionals
    • to embed medicines reviews beyond the lifespan of the project by delivering the 7-step polypharmacy review as well as understand the benefits and refer to another health professional where appropriate.
  • Delivering 15,000 polypharmacy (medicine) reviews using the 7-step process by the end of the project. The majority of these will be delivered by the dedicated project pharmacists, but some may come from the additional pharmacists and doctors we will train.
Young person

What is Polypharmacy and why are reviews necessary?

Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medicines and represents a growing public health challenge. Taking multiple medicines may be the most appropriate action, however the potential issues are:

  • Increased risk of harm from interactions between drugs or between drugs and diseases outweighing intended benefits
  • Detrimental impact on patients’ quality of life
  • Medicines prescribed not having intended benefits, with up to 50% of patients taking four or more medicines not taking them as prescribed
  • Economic impact in service demand and hospitalisation
  • Complex systems of health and social care can lead to a lack of collaboration across the different care settings

iSIMPATHY project objectives are:

  • To develop a whole-systems approach across health and care that ensures the optimal and sustainable use of medications for those with multiple morbidity to enable them to lead healthy and active lives
  • To develop guidance to support patients and clinicians in defining and achieving realistic goals of drug treatment, and systems change is necessary to aide implementation
  • To embed a whole-systems approach towards medicines reviews that is scalable in the three project jurisdictions
  • To share learning across the three jurisdictions to facilitate understanding and implementation of effective medicine reviews throughout the project’s lifespan

iSIMPATHY builds on the SIMPATHY project and is working to deliver the recommendations of the SIMPATHY project.

  1. Use a systems approach that has multidisciplinary clinical and policy leadership
  2. Nurture a culture that encourages and prioritises the safety and quality of prescribing
  3. Ensure that patients are integral to the decisions made about their medicines and are empowered and supported to do so
  4. Use data to drive change and measure outcomes
  5. Adopt an evidence based approach with a bias towards action
  6. Utilise, develop and share tools to support implementation

How is the project funded?

The iSIMPATHY project is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, designed to promote greater levels of cross-border co-operation. Match funding is provided by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust / Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre, the Department of Health, Ireland and the Scottish Government.

The project budget is €3,520,671, of which 85% was awarded by SEUPB and 15% is supplied by each of the project partners.

Key Personnel


Alpana Mair

Alpana Mair

Head of Effective Prescribing and Therapeutics
Scottish Government

Nicky Broekhuizen

Nicky Broekhuizen

Project Manager for iSIMPATHY
NHS National Services Scotland, NSS

Chris Dickson

Chris Dickson

Project Support Officer for iSIMPATHY
NHS National Services Scotland, NSS

Stuart Law

Head of Policy and Research Effective Prescribing and Therapeutics
Scottish Government

Yousaf Kanan

Senior Research Officer Effective Prescribing and Therapeutics
Scottish Government

Northern Ireland

Dr Mike Scott

Dr Mike Scott

Director of Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC)
Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT)

Dr Glenda Fleming

Dr Glenda Fleming

Deputy Director Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC) Training, Service Development & Research Pharmacist
Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT)

Dr Claire Scullin

Dr Claire Scullin

Senior Research & Innovation Programme Manager Medicines Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC)
Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT)

Republic of Ireland

Ciara Kirke

Ciara Kirke

Clinical Lead
Medication Safety Health Service Executive

Celine Croarkin

Project Manager for iSIMPATHY HSE
HSE CHO1 & CHO 8 (Louth)

Yellow Circle

Find Out More

If you’d like to find out more about what we do, please get in touch.

Our Partners

A project supported by the European Union’s Interreg VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).