Skip to main content

National Poisons Information Service annual report published

Poisoning is a significant public health issues, resulting in over 380,000 hospital presentations in England alone (2019-20), and over 6000 deaths per year across the UK. The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is commissioned to provide information and advice 24-hours a day to NHS healthcare professionals across the UK to support the management of patients with suspected poisoning. Recently the NPIS published their annual report summarising their activities for the period 2021-22.

Overall, the NPIS Annual Report 2021-22 highlights the breadth and importance of delivering a high-quality poisons service despite ever-increasing financial pressures. During 2021–2022, there were just over 39,000 telephone enquiries to NPIS nationally, and just over 754,000 TOXBASE® user sessions – mainly from hospital departments and NHS advice services (i.e. NHS 111, NHS 24 and NHS Direct). There were also close to 26,000 subscribers to the TOXBASE® app (representing a 6.6% increase in subscribers), who accessed about 268,000 app pages. The most commonly agents enquired about via all means (telephone, website and app) included: paracetamol, ibuprofen, sertraline, diazepam, codeine and naproxen.

A number of issues are highlighted in the 2021/22 NPIS Annual Report, including the impact of recreational use of nitrous oxide (N2O), usage of the Scottish and Newcastle Acetylcysteine Protocol (SNAP) for paracetamol poisoning, and the retirement of Dr John Thompson:

  • Recreational use of N2O in the UK is common, but prolonged use can lead to the development of neurological symptoms and degeneration of the spinal cord. Over a period of 10 years to 2022 the NPIS saw a 257% increase in calls regarding N2O, particularly amongst young adults aged 18-24 years; the report highlights the clear need for a public health campaign to increase awareness about the harms of N2O.
  • The treatment of paracetamol poisoning involves the administration of an antidote call N-acetylcysteine – a process that for many years has taken 21 hours of treatment, and can result in minor adverse reactions occurring. The NPIS developed a much shorter treatment protocol called SNAP that is given over a period of 12 hours. The report highlights that this is now endorsed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and widespread uptake will potentially save the NHS valuable resources as well as shortening hospital stays for patients.
  • The report also highlights the retirement of Dr John Thompson, highlighting his distinguished career in toxicology, significant achievements, and substantial contribution to the running and leadership of the Welsh Nationals Poisons Unit for over 20 years.

Read the NPIS Annual Report 2021–2022 at 

Follow AWTTC: