The Department of Health has announced an action plan to tackle the over-prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia.
This will include appointing a dementia tsar, carrying out an audit to establish definitive prescribing figures, better training for relevant staff and measures to ensure people with dementia and their carers have access to psychological therapies to tackle the root of agitation and aggression.
Local targets will also be set for reducing antipsychotic prescribing, once the audit has been completed.
The move is in response to a government-commissioned review, also published today, which concluded that too many dementia patients were being routinely prescribed antipsychotic drugs to treat aggression and agitation, contrary to NICE guidelines.
The review said the treatment was unnecessary in nearly 150,000 cases and was linked to 1,800 deaths.
Care services minister Phil Hope said: “It is unacceptable that antipsychotic drugs are routinely prescribed to people with dementia.
“More than half of people with dementia will experience agitation or aggression at some point, but NICE guidance is clear – antipsychotics should only be given when this is really necessary” he said.
“Excellent examples of practice do exist, but our action plan will help make sure this is the norm, not the exception,” he added.