NPIS annual reports

The main role of the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is to advise NHS healthcare professionals on the diagnosis, treatment and care of poisoned patients. NPIS advice ensures that healthcare staff have access to up to date information about treating poisoned patients and that patients without significant poisoning are not treated in hospital, thus reducing unnecessary use of NHS resources.

The National Poisons Information Service publishes its annual reports as a statement of activity, accountability and governance.


NPIS annual report 2017-18


Poisoning is an important public health issue and a common cause of hospital presentation in the UK. Around 160,000 presentations occur annually as a result of poisoning, most frequently in the context of deliberate self-harm. Many more patients are managed in the community, including by primary care and NHS advice services such as NHS 111, NHS 24 and NHS Direct. The National Poisons Information Service 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.

The NPIS provides this information primarily via TOXBASE, an online database, which is also available as an app for iOS and Android mobile devices, and a 24-hour telephone advice service, staffed by specialists in poisons information and supported by consultant clinical toxicologists. The availability of this expertise avoids unnecessary hospital referrals and admissions for patients at low risk of harm, while improving the quality of treatment and shortening hospital stay for those with clinical toxicity.

The NPIS also hosts the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS), the national source of information and advice about exposures to drugs and chemicals during pregnancy.

During 2017/18, there were 695,707 online TOXBASE user sessions in the UK. The most frequent users were hospital departments and NHS telephone advice services such as NHS 111, NHS 24 and NHS Direct.

Delivering information on poisoning directly to individual healthcare professionals, the TOXBASE app provided users access to TOXBASE on- and offline at the point of care. There are currently 12,015 TOXBASE app subscribers who have accessed 122,033 app pages during 2017/18, representing a 50.8% increase from 2016/17.

While use of TOXBASE online and the TOXBASE app has increased, demand on the national telephone enquiry line has fallen, with 41,931 telephone enquiries received during 2017/18. The most frequent users of this service are NHS telephone advice services and primary care professionals. The number of enquiries referred to the on-call consultant clinical toxicologist also reduced during 2017/18 with 1,907 consultant referrals representing a 2.9% reduction compared to 2016/17.

During 2017/18 UKTIS provided information in relation to more than 2.7 million information requests. There were 541,476 accesses to scientific information on the UKTIS website during 2017/18 (representing an 80.2% increase on the previous year). In addition, patient information pages on the UKTIS public-facing website bumps were accessed by the public on 2,138,290 occasions (a 48.0% increase on 2016/17).

Previous reports

NPIS annual report 2016-17

NPIS annual report 2015-16

NPIS annual report 2014-15

NPIS annual report 2013-14