Exclusive - PCTs ignore advice on antipsychotics

PCT inaction leaves dementia patients on drugs despite safety concerns.

GPs have no alternative to prescribing antipsychotics in dementia
GPs have no alternative to prescribing antipsychotics in dementia

Over half of PCTs in England are failing to commission services to reduce antipsychotic prescribing among dementia patients, despite well-known safety risks, GP newspaper can reveal.

Results of the GP newspaper investigation on dementia

The findings increase pressure on the DoH to release its antipsychotics review, originally expected in spring.

Responses from 62 PCTs to a request for information by GP newspaper show 57 per cent are failing to offer services to help GPs cut prescribing of the drugs risperidone and olanzapine.

GPs have previously warned they are forced to prescribe the drugs, which can triple the risk of stroke and double the risk of death, because of a lack of alternative services to refer to.

The responses received also show that half of PCTs do not carry out audits recommended by NICE to find those dementia patients who are suitable for treatment with acetyl-cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine.

Alzheimer's Society chief executive Neil Hunt said: 'It is a sad day when prescribing of antipsychotics is unacceptably high and prescriptions of cholinesterase inhibitors are among the lowest in Europe.

'We must develop health and social care services that can respond to the challenge of dementia.'

North Shields GP, Dr Dave Tomson, who has an interest in mental health, said: 'Most people now know antipsychotic prescribing is not desirable, but it still happens because of a lack of alternatives.

'PCTs could incentivise GPs to take regular audits and reviews of antipsychotic prescribing.'

He called for better teamwork between health professionals and nursing homes.

Professor Irwin Nazareth, an expert in primary care mental health at University College London, added: 'PCTs need to assess the extent of the problem, then assist GPs with a programme of stopping use of these drugs in this group of patients and finally offering alternative treatment options.'

A DoH spokeswoman said the antipsychotic review would be published in November. Only 'severely distressed' dementia patients or those putting themselves or others at risk should receive the drugs, she said.

PCT failures

  • 57 per cent of PCTs are failing to offer services to cut antipsychotic prescribing
  • 52 per cent of PCTs have not carried out an audit to find patients suitable for cholinesterase inhibitors

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Child coughing

NICE traffic light tool that helps GPs spot seriously ill under-5s 'unreliable'

NICE's 'traffic light' system - intended to help GPs indentify risk of serious illness...

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK have led the largest-ever NHS vaccination programme in response...

GMC sign

Overseas-graduate GPs fare worse in medical tribunals due to lack of legal help

UK GPs who graduated overseas face worse outcomes in GMC cases because they are far...

Woman using HRT patch

Practical advice for GPs on prescribing HRT

GP menopause specialists Dr Louise Newson and Dr Olivia Jones provides an overview...

NHS logo on tiled wall

PCNs falling short on 26,000 staff target and need more flexibility, GPs warn

Government plans to bring in 26,000 staff by 2024 to support general practice are...

Talking General Practice logo with picture of Dr Ed Cantelo and Dr Tommy Perkins

Podcast: How two GPs set up a business to advise doctors about finance

Talking General Practice speaks to GPs Dr Tommy Perkins and Dr Ed Cantelo from Medics...