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GPs in firing line on antipsychotics use

By Nigel Praities

GPs face strict curbs on their use of antipsychotics in patients with dementia, after a Government-funded report linked the treatment with 1,800 deaths a year.

The report found antipsychotics were being used 'too often' by GPs to treat dementia and called for their use to be rapidly cut to a third of their current level.

Under the recommendations of the report – accepted in full by the Government – national goals will be set to reduce their use, with GPs regularly reviewing the mental health patients in care homes and auditing their use of antipsychotics.

GPs would also receive more training on mental health and be expected to use alternative treatments where possible to prevent prescribing antipsychotics.

PCTs will also have to commission a specialist mental health service to support GPs working in care homes and the community.

Professor Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry and author of the report, said: ‘The findings of my review confirm that there are indeed significant issues in terms of quality of care and patient safety.'

‘These drugs appear to be used too often in dementia and, at their likely level of use, potential benefits are most probably outweighed by their risks overall.'

‘This is a problem across the world, not one just restricted to the NHS. It is positive that, with action, we have the means with which to sort out this problem, quickly and safely,' he said.

The Government has launched an action plan to implement the report's recommendations and the health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission, said it would launch an enquiry into the use of antipsychotics in care homes.

Jamie Rentoul, CQC's director of regulation and strategy said: ‘We will be looking at this issue closely by scrutinising how care providers manage medicines and safeguard people.

‘We are also planning a special review of healthcare for people living in care homes, which is to be carried out in the near future. Among other things this will look at the contributions made by GPs, other healthcare professionals, care homes, PCTs and councils as commissioners of care to aspects of medicines management,' he said.

GPs face strict curbs on their use of antipsychotics in patients with dementia GPs face strict curbs on their use of antipsychotics in patients with dementia

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