Alzheimer’s Society warning over using anti-psychotic drugs to treat people living with dementia

More than 100 dementia patients in Preston are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs
More than 100 dementia patients in Preston are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs
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More than 100 dementia patients in Preston are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, which increase risk of stroke and can accelerate the symptoms of the disease.

The Alzheimer’s Society has warned that the drugs are an “archaic and inappropriate” way to treat most people living with dementia.

At the end of June, 133 dementia patients living in the Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group area had been prescribed anti-psychotics in the previous six weeks, NHS Digital figures show.

Of those, at least 79 were given the medication despite not being diagnosed with psychosis- almost 60 per cent. The data is recorded by GPs, and small numbers have been suppressed to protect patient identity. Overall, 1,614 people with dementia live in Preston. That means around eight per cent of them had been given anti-psychotic medication in the previous six weeks.The Royal College of Psychiatrists said that the “vast majority” of dementia sufferers are unlikely to need anti-psychotic medication, which is often used to calm agitated patients. The Alzheimer’s Society added they should be used only as a “last resort”.

Following an analysis which showed that inappropriate prescriptions of anti-psychotic drugs contributed to around 1,800 deaths a year, the Department of Health made reducing their use a national priority in 2009.

NHS England said that progress is being made on curbing the use of the drugs. A spokesman said: “The NHS Long Term Plan commits to going even further in improving care, including rolling out support from GPs, pharmacists and other health staff to review prescriptions for people in care homes.”

• National Dementia Helpline: 0300 222 11 22