National Poisons Information Service
The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) provides NHS healthcare professionals with a 24-hour, year-round clinical toxicology information service.
Its role is to offer clinicians across the UK timely, up-to-date and appropriate information and advice on the diagnosis, treatment and management of poisonings and suspected poisonings in humans - including exposures arising from chemical incidents and accidents - to clinicians across the UK.
NPIS operates a UK-wide, integrated network, providing a responsive service to meet the ever-changing challenges presented by patients and carers. Since 2005, when the service became more cohesive, it has developed uniform operating procedures and standard practices. This across-the-board approach enables it to run coordinated on-call and call-switching systems, plus an extremely effective national consultant clinical toxicologist rota.
A network of four Units - in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle - covers the UK, ensuring enquiries from NHS staff are handled swiftly, efficiently and consistently.
Support is provided either on or offline. The online resource, TOXBASE, provides comprehensive toxicological advice on pharmaceuticals, herbal medicines, chemicals and biological toxins. For cases where more specific and detailed advice is required, there is a 24-hour national telephone service. NPIS consultants are available on-call to assist NHS colleagues with advice on more complex exposures, with wider clinical or political implications.
Over the past five years, the number of consultant staff available to assist in the management of more seriously unwell cases has expanded. Some NPIS consultants are based in acute hospitals in London and York, rather than at the four main Units. The service also has access to support from expert paediatricians.
In addition, NPIS advises on, and collates data about, the toxicity of drugs and chemicals in pregnancy, through the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS) and maintains a registry of data on the composition of consumer products via the Product Data Centre.