MSATS – Safe use of valproate

Event 28 February 2024Location Online via WebEx at 12:30-14:00

Discussion of key current medication safety challenges within healthcare with a focus on the safe use of valproate; inspiring partnership across the system


28 February 2024


Online via WebEx at 12:30-14:00

About the event

This interactive session is part of the ‘Medication Safety Across the System’ (MSATS) series aimed at healthcare professionals, working in any sector with a role or passion for medication safety and/or involved in medicines use.

Our speakers shared innovative practices addressing safe use of valproate to inspire and equip the audience ready for translation and replication across systems.

Why it’s important

Due to the known significant risk of serious harm to a baby after exposure to valproate in pregnancy new regulatory measures aim to ensure safer use of valproate.  Implementation of these new regulatory measures require a collaborative and system wide approach to ensure safe and sustainable safety improvements.

What was covered

  • A discussion of the new regulations related to valproate use and the implications for the system.
  • Identification of challenges with implementation of new regulations within existing clinical pathways, and discussion of potential innovate solutions.
  •  ‘Lived experience’ was shared to understand the impact of these new regulations for individuals.
  •  Shared exemplar practices where valproate safety has been reviewed in light of the new regulations, to enable reflection of local practice and consideration for implementation at a local and system level.

Learning outcomes:

  • Articulate key current challenges related to valproate safety.
  • Use information shared to assess working practices and patient pathways, at both a local and system level to understand challenges of implementing new regulations.
  • Reflect on examples shared and identify actions or responses to recommend locally, in order to improve safe practice.
  • Take opportunities to network with peers to inform the development of appropriate local and system wide responses to valproate safety.


A range of speakers from SPS and other organisations helped run this event.

Non-SPS Speakers

Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE

Patient Safety Commissioner

Tony Jamieson

Medicines Safety Improvement Programme Lead NHS England

Helena Gregory

Head of Pharmacy and Medicines – Medicines Safety Lead, NICE Medicines and Prescribing Associate

Dr Rhys Thomas

Honorary Consultant in Epilepsy, NUTH; Reader in Epilepsy, Newcastle University

Emma Murphy

Co-founder of IN-FACT (Independent Fetal Anti Convulsant Trust)

Janet Williams MBE

Co-founder of IN-FACT (Independent Fetal Anti Convulsant Trust)

Leigh Henderson

Head of Neuropsychiatric Disorders, Cognition and Mental Health, MHRA

Kim Morley

Advanced Clinical Practitioner and Epilepsy Specialist Nurse/Midwife, Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust

Sarah Belcher

Clinical Lead Pharmacist at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership

Tara Gallagher

Network Director of Pharmacy, Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Lancashire & South Cumbria Valproate Steering Group

Siobhan Gee

Consultant Pharmacist and Deputy Director of Pharmacy at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust 

SPS Speakers

Learn more about SPS team member who are speaking.


Information presented in these resources is correct at time of recording. Current guidance should be followed.


Webinar recording

Pre-event case study: An ICB investigation into a pregnancy while a woman was on valproate

Safe prescribing of valproate in mental health services

Sarah Belcher, Clinical Lead Pharmacist at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership shares their journey towards providing assurance of the safe prescribing of valproate within a mental health serviceA organisational communication strategy and system-wide working has contributed to positive progress. Sarah describes electronic solutions using the RIO system to support implementation of valproate regulations. 

A system approach to the safe use of valproate

Tara Gallagher, Network Director of Pharmacy, Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Lancashire & South Cumbria Valproate Steering Group shares her reflections and insights into improving valproate safety at her local and system level. She discusses some of the challenges they faced and how they have tried to overcome them to give viewers ideas to consider which may be applicable to their own systems.   

Patient voice recordings

Hear from our lived experience volunteers as to why it is essential that their voice is heard and is central to any system wide discussions about valproate safety. 

Janet & Emma



Safe use of valproate in acute district general hospitals

Emma Kirk chats with Kylie Williams, Highly Specialist pharmacist Medicines Safety at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Emma Hall, Lead Technician Medicines Safety at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust about the impact of the regulations at acute district general hospitals. They discuss the challenges and some of the solutions they have implemented to ensure that they support the safe use of valproate for their patients.

Learning and intellectual disabilities and valproate safety

Anna Bischler talks to Professor Lance Watkins and Dr Maria Vincent in a discussion highlighting the importance of considering those with learning and intellectual disabilities when implementing changes in practice related to valproate prescribing. Lance and Maria explore the potential impact on the system and suggest considerations to promote an equitable and safe journey for the valproate patient with learning and intellectual disabilities.

Full pack dispensing of valproate

Emma Kirk chats with Siobhan Gee, Consultant Pharmacist and Deputy Director of Pharmacy at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust about the challenges and the opportunities of the mandated full pack dispensing of valproate.

Presentation resources

Slides from the presentation are now available below.


Please contact the Admin Team if you have any questions.

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