Dr Sarah Pontefract MPharm, MRPharmS, PgD, PhD

Dr Sarah Pontefract

School of Pharmacy
Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics
Programme Director SCRIPT eLearning

Contact details

Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
SCRIPT eLearning: Ten years of improving medicines safety

Sarah is a Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy and Therapeutics  & Programme Director for the SCRIPT eLearning programme.

Her research interests focus on patient safety, specifically relating to medication errors, medicines optimisation and the use of electronic patient records. For her PhD, she investigated the impact of electronic prescribing systems on pharmacist-physician communication in the hospital setting.  


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Medical Education) (PGCert)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Member of the General Pharmaceutical Council
  • Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy (PGDip)
  • Master of Pharmacy (MPharm)


SCRIPT eLearning programme
Improving prescribing with information technology

Sarah is a registered pharmacist, graduating from Aston University in 2003. In 2007 she gained her Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy at Keele University and worked as a hospital pharmacist in a number of specialities, including paediatrics and older adult mental health.

Sarah is a Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics at the University of Birmingham. She completed her PhD as a Doctoral Fellow of the National Institute for Health Research. Her research interests focus on patient safety, specifically relating to medication errors, medicines optimisation and the use of electronic patient records.

In 2010, Sarah joined the University as the Content and Editorial Manager for the SCRIPT eLearning programme for which she is now Programme Director. SCRIPT is a web-based resource that provides education in prescribing, therapeutics and medicines optimisation. Commissioned by Health Education England, SCRIPT is integrated into the training of Foundation trainee doctors, dentists and paediatric specialist trainees. It is also available to all NHS healthcare professionals in the UK for their continuing professional development. 


Teaching Programmes

  • MPharm
    • The Professional Pharmacist (Years 1–4)
  • MBChB (Year 5)
    • Acutely Ill Patient (therapeutics in clinical practice)

Teaching Activity

  • Sarah teaches clinical pharmacy practice across all four years of the MPharm programme.  She also teaches applied therapeutics in Year 5 of the MBChB programme and prepares students for the national Prescribing Safety Assessment.


Research Themes

Sarah’s research interests focus on patient safety, specifically relating to medicines in the following themes: 

  • Education and Training and Medication Errors
  • Electronic Patient Records and Medication Errors

Research Activity

Sarah is Programme Director for the SCRIPT eLearning programme. She supervises research into the acceptability of eLearning for undergraduate students and postgraduate healthcare practitioners. The team investigate the impact of the learning on knowledge, and whether this can change prescribing practice. The team are also working to investigate whether the changes in knowledge and practice have an impact on medication errors and patient safety in the NHS.  

Sarah co-leads a project with the University of Manchester, to integrate electronic patient records into undergraduate health education. She is also a researcher on a national NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Health research to design and implement a technological and behavioural intervention to improve antimicrobial prescribing in the hospital setting.

Other activities

  • Member of the Clinical Committee of the British Pharmacological Society
  • Honorary Pharmacist (University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust)
  • Member of the Standard Setting Committee for the Prescribing Safety Assessment, Medical Schools Council


Recent publications


Khawagi, WY, Steinke, DT, Nguyen, J, Pontefract, S & Keers, RN 2020, 'Development of prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications: modified e-Delphi study', British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14391

Sheikh, A, Coleman, J, Chuter, A, Williams, R, Lilford, R, Slee, A, Morrison, Z, Cresswell, K, Robertson , A, Slight, S, Mozaffar, H, Lee, L, Shah, S, Pontefract, S, King, A, Wiegel , V, Watson, S, Salema , N, Bates, D, Avery, A, Girling, A, Mccloughan, L & Watson, N 2020, 'Electronic prescribing in hospital: the evaluation of ePrescribing systems in English Hospitals research programme', NIHR Journals Library. <https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/journals/>

Mason, J, Vallance, H, Pontefract, S & Coleman, J 2019, 'Safe prescribing in general dental practice – challenges and solutions', Dental Update, vol. 46, no. 9, pp. 828-835. https://doi.org/10.12968/denu.2019.46.9.828

Pontefract, S & Wilson, K 2019, 'Using electronic patient records: defining learning outcomes for undergraduate education', BMC Medical Education, vol. 19, 30, pp. 30. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-019-1466-5

Cornu, P, Phansalkar, S, Seger, DL, Cho, I, Pontefract, S, Robertson, A, Bates, DW & Slight, SP 2018, 'High-priority and low-priority drug-drug interactions in different international Electronic Health Record systems: a comparative study', International Journal of Medical Informatics, vol. 111, pp. 165-171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2017.12.027

Pontefract, S, Hodson, J, Slee, A, Shah, S, Girling, A, Williams, R, Sheikh, A & Coleman, J 2018, 'Impact of a commercial order entry system on prescribing errors amenable to computerised decision support in the hospital setting: a prospective pre-post study ', BMJ Quality & Safety, vol. 27, no. 9, pp. 725-736. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjqs-2017-007135

Omer, HMRB, Hodson, J, Pontefract, SK & Martin, U 2018, 'Inpatient falls in older adults: a cohort study of antihypertensive prescribing pre- and post-fall', BMC Geriatrics, vol. 18, 58. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-018-0749-8

Pontefract, S, Coleman, J, Vallance, H, Hirsch, C, Shah, S & Marriott, J 2018, 'The impact of computerised physician order entry and clinical decision support on pharmacist-physician communication in the hospital setting: a qualitative study', PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 11, e0207450. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207450

Audi, S, Burrage, DR, Lonsdale, DO, Pontefract, S, Coleman, J, Hitchings, AW & Baker, EH 2018, 'The ‘top 100’ drugs and classes in England: An updated ‘starter formulary’ for trainee prescribers', British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.13709

Pontefract, S & Ferner, R 2017, 'Computerized order entry, clinical decision support, and safer prescribing', Adverse Drug Reaction Bulletin, vol. 305, no. 1, pp. 1179–1182. https://doi.org/10.1097/FAD.0000000000000026

King, A, Cresswell, KM, Coleman, JJ, Pontefract, SK, Slee, A, Williams, R & Sheikh, A 2017, 'Investigating the ways in which health information technology can promote antimicrobial stewardship: a conceptual overview', Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076817722049

Brown, CL, Reygate, K, Slee, A, Coleman, J, Pontefract, S, Bates, DW, Husband, A, Watson, N & Slight, S 2016, 'A literature review of the training offered to qualified prescribers to use electronic prescribing systems', International Journal of Pharmacy Practice. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijpp.12296

Coleman, J & Pontefract, S 2016, 'Adverse drug reactions', Clinical Medicine, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 481-485. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.16-5-481

Brooks, H, Pontefract, S, Hodson, J, Blackwell, N, Hughes, E, Marriott, J & Coleman, J 2016, 'An evaluation of UK foundation trainee doctors’ learning behaviours in a technology-enhanced learning environment', BMC Medical Education, vol. 16, 133. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0651-z

Fox, A, Pontefract, S, Brown, D, Portlock, J & Coleman, J 2016, 'Developing consensus on hospital prescribing indicators of potential harm for infants and children.', British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 82, no. 2, pp. 451-460. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12954

View all publications in research portal


  • Pharmacy
  • Therapeutic Education
  • Electronic Prescribing