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MPs to question sedative use in care homes

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An inquiry into the use of sedative drugs in dementia patients has been launched after concerns about the risks of inappropriate prescribing.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, made up of over 60 MPs and peers, will investigate the use of antipsychotic drugs given to people with dementia in care homes, following claims that the NHS spends £80m on unnecessary prescribing.

Opponents of the drugs claim they have minimal benefit and cause dangerous side effects.

Jeremy Wright MP, chairperson of the group, said: ‘When anti-psychotics are given to people with dementia inappropriately they can leave the individual excessively sedated, with increased risk of stroke and side effects such as tremors and rigidity.’

Research carried out by the Alzheimer’s Society has found that patients who stop taking neuroleptic drugs three years after initial use have a 44% higher chance of survival than those still taking the drugs.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the charity, said: ‘It is absurd that we are wasting millions of pounds prescribing these drugs when this money would be much better spent training health professionals in dementia care.’

There are 700,000 people in the UK who suffer from a form of dementia, with over 100,000 people currently being prescribed anti-psychotics.

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