CROP – The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

Through implementation of The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP) project the AHSN NENC aims to assist general practices across the North East and North Cumbria with reducing opioid prescribing, improving patient care and safety across the region.

Opioid Prescribing

Opioid medicines, such as codeine or morphine, are effective and work well for short-lived pain (e.g. following injury) and cancer pain. They are, however, known to be ineffective for chronic pain and, when used long-term (90+ days), are linked with increased risk of dependence and overdose.  Inappropriate limiting of these medicines may increase the risk of harm, including the risk of suicide, and may lead some people to seek medicines from illicit or less-regulated sources.

The North East and North Cumbria have the highest rate of opioid prescribing in England and are more likely to be prescribed these medicines for period of over six or twelve months than in all other regions.


CROP – The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

Following successful work in the Yorkshire and Humber region, the aim of this transformational project in the North East and North Cumbria is to encourage a reduction in inappropriate prescribing of high dose opiates for non-cancer pain by promoting the review of opioid analgesic prescribing within Primary Care, and to support GP Practices with this work.

The AHSN NENC has commissioned support from North East Commissioning Service (NECS) to produce bi-monthly Practice Reports relating to the prescribing of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain throughout GP Practices. Support has been further commissioned by the AHSN NENC to disseminate, by the CCG, the Practice Reports to all participating GP Practices in the region.

Accordingly, GP Practices will receive Practice Reports relating to the prescribing of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain within their Practice.  The Reports will be based upon searches, which have been designed to provide an indication of how many prescriptions of both strong and weak opioids are being dispensed.

CROP Project Update

The CROP Project was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but recommenced on 1st July.

Current developments include:

  • Chasing up outstanding Data Process Agreements (DPAs) with practices.  Practices that do not return signed DPAs will not be included in this project.
  • The first data extraction will take place on 10th August and will occur every 8 weeks after this date.  The final extraction will be 12 July 2021.  (Trial data collection was conducted in February 2020 and data was sent to Chris Jewitt GP for validation re. patient identification.  He ran a search and was happy that the two searches correlated).
  • In total there will be 7 reports and  the  first report will be circulated early September 2020.
  • An evaluation will be conducted by John Rees.  This will be a mixed methods analysis using limited quantitative data.