About the NPIS

Checked 10/2021

The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is the Department of Health approved, and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) commissioned, national UK service that provides expert advice on all aspects of acute and chronic poisoning.

The Service comprises four individual units, based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Each unit has its own specialist consultant clinical toxicology staff and specialists in poisons information (SPIs) who work together to provide a national service that has been functioning for more than 50 years.

In line with Department of Health policy the NPIS promotes, supports and develops best practice for the management of cases of poisoning in UK health facilities.

All four NPIS units contribute to TOXBASE, the UK approved clinical toxicology database designed for all UK healthcare professionals. The NPIS also operates a national 24-hour telephone information line which provides clinical staff with case-specific advice on more complex cases. This telephone line is staffed by NPIS SPIs who are graduates with a scientific or nursing background and with additional training in clinical toxicology. They are supported by a national on-call rota of NPIS consultant clinical toxicologists who collectively have personal experience of managing in excess of 6,000 cases of poisoning per annum, and therefore have extensive clinical experience on which to draw when answering enquiries on severe cases of poisoning. In addition, NPIS consultant staff are able to accept direct clinical referrals from colleagues who require specialist assistance in the management of less common types of poisoning, such as those due to heavy metals.

The UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS) is an integral component of the NPIS.

Audit activities are conducted by the NPIS on behalf of UKHSA, MHRA, HSE and other Government Agencies on the toxic effects of products in the United Kingdom.

All NPIS units contribute to a national clinical governance system, and their staff participate in a national continuing education programme. NPIS staff are heavily involved in teaching and research, both within the United Kingdom and at an international level. They contribute annually to the congresses organised by the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists (EAPCCT), the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology (NACCT) and the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Toxicology (APAMT). NPIS staff are also involved closely in the work of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) and the EC.

The NPIS publishes an annual report.