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Tuesday 6th December 2016
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Dementia drugs not good for all

12th November 2009

An official government review has found that the needless use of anti-psychotic drugs is widespread in dementia care and contributes to the death of many patients.

Old Hands

Figures show that 180,000 patients a year are given the drugs in care homes, hospitals and their own homes to manage aggression.

The government in England has now agreed to reduce the use of the drugs after the expert review said the treatment was unnecessary in nearly 150,000 cases and was linked to 1,800 deaths.

Steps planned to achieve this include improving access to other types of therapy such as counselling, better monitoring of prescribing practices, guidance for families worried about drug use and specialist training in dementia for health and social care staff.

There will also be a new national director for dementia to oversee the measures.

The review was led by King's College London expert Professor Sube Banerjee.

He said while anti-psychotic drugs would still be necessary for some patients, it should only be for three months and that health and social care services should develop a different mindset in their approach to the use of the drugs.

Care services minister Phil Hope said: “We know there are situations where anti-psychotic drug use is necessary - we're not calling for a ban, but we do want to see a significant reduction in use.”

The Alzheimer's Society said the long-awaited review was a welcome recognition of the scale of the problem.

Chief executive Neil Hunt said the issue went beyond the quality of care and was a “fundamental rights issue.”

 

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