GPs in England face annual audits of antipsychotic pres-cribing and tough targets to cut use of the drugs by two thirds.
The move comes after the DoH backed advice set out in a review of antipsychotic prescribing published last week.
The report estimates that three-quarters of antipsychotic use is inappropriate. It sets a target of cutting prescribing by two-thirds, given the difficulty of identifying which patients are being appropriately treated.
Last month GP revealed that over half of PCTs in England are failing to commission services to limit antipsychotic prescribing (GP, 30 October).
The report calls for national and local audits 'as soon as possible', to be repeated annually for the next three years. Audits will be carried out by the Care Quality Commission and PCTs.
Practice- and patient-level data will be used to ensure that future use follows best practice on initiation, dose minimisation and cessation, the report said.
PCTs will need to commission specialist services to improve training for GPs and other staff.
Former GP Steve Iliffe, professor of primary care for older people at University College London, said audits were a 'sensible and straightforward' way to curb antipsychotic use.
The report's author, professor of mental health and ageing at King's College London Sube Banerjee, said its advice will be cheap to implement.
But Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said questions on funding remain.
The review says 1,800 UK dementia patients die each year as a result of antipsychotic use.