Doctors who condemn vulnerable patients to a prison sentence “locked within their own body” through use of chemical restraints will face “serious” action if they fail to curb the practice, ministers have warned.
Unnecessary use of anti-psychotic drugs is killing 1,800 patients prematurely every year, according to the Department of Health.
Care services minister Paul Burstow believes dementia patients are “robbed of their dignity” by the common practice.
At a speech to the Dementia Congress in Liverpool today, he will warn medics he is poised to take “serious steps” if prescribing is not cut by two-thirds.
Mr Burstow will say that chemical restraints are like a “prison sentence, locking a person within their own body, shortening their life and robbing them of their dignity”.
A Department of Health commissioned review found that the drugs were being prescribed as a first resort far too often and, in most cases, inappropriately.
Mr Burstow said: “Anti-psychotic drugs prescribed against the evidence, without clear clinical justification, amount to a deprivation of liberty.”
The Alzheimer’s Society said the inappropriate use of chemical restraints was an “absolute travesty”.
“We need to see a mandatory review of antipsychotic prescriptions after 12 weeks put in place. We call on all doctors and care providers to work with us to end this chemical cosh.”