Date Published: 10 June 2011

Dementia Action Alliance calls to review antipsychotic drug prescriptions for dementia patients

Mental Health issues - UK

Dementia Action Alliance calls to review antipsychotic drug prescriptions for dementia patients

According to a recent statement from the Mental Health Foundation (UK), around 180,000 people with dementia in the UK are thought to be prescribed chemical cosh drugs, yet 80% of these prescriptions are deemed unnecessary. Does this seem shocking ?

The Dementia Action Alliance, a consortium of over 50 health and social care organisations and charities including the Mental Health Foundation, has today published a letter calling for all prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs to be reviewed by the end of March 2012:

"Dear Sir,

Quality of life is a right not a privilege. Yet worryingly, nearly 150,000 people with dementia are having this right put at risk because of inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics. These drugs can leave people sedated and at increased risk of stroke and death. This unacceptable situation needs to change.
If this is to happen, we need every person with dementia on antipsychotics to have their prescription reviewed. This will require a dedicated and coordinated effort. That is why the Dementia Action Alliance is today calling on everyone who has a role to play ? from GPs to pharmacists and people with dementia and carers themselves ? to join forces to work towards this shared goal. Only then can we ensure antipsychotics become a last resort and that people with dementia are receiving the quality, personalised care they are entitled to. We cannot afford to shy away from this challenge.

Yours Faithfully,
Dementia Action Alliance."

Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, added:

" We have partnered with the Dementia Action Alliance today to call for all antipsychotic prescriptions for people with dementia to be reviewed by 31 March 2012. It is shocking that nearly 150,000 people with dementia are inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics which can severely affect their quality of life.
If appropriately prescribed, anti-psychotic drugs can help to alleviate the symptoms of dementia for some people. However, they should remain a last resort because of the possible severe adverse reactions. NICE recommendations on non-medical interventions should be more fully utilised for people with mild to moderate dementia.
Our research into self-directed support has shown that affording people living with dementia and their carers greater freedom and choice about the social care services they receive can prove hugely beneficial for all concerned. By the same principle, it is essential that people with dementia and their carers are aware of all the treatment options available to them and receive the quality, personalised care they are entitled to

To help patients with dementia and their carers, the Dementia Action Alliance has published a booklet containing information and advice about how to make sure antipsychotics are not prescribed inappropriately.

Source: Mental Health Foundation, UK -

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