Repeated annual audit cycles revealed an unacceptable failure rate of 38%-46% in epidural analgesia for surgical patients in our organisation. Reasons for failure included unilateral block, missed segments and catheter migration. In spite of interventions to remedy the situation, the success rate could not be improved. The aim of the initiative outlined in this article was to improve the efficacy of epidural analgesia and to reduce the failure rate. We found that following the appropriate training and assessment, nurse-administered diamorphine top-ups are a safe and effective way to improve the efficacy of epidural analgesia and can be integrated into acute pain team practice.