NHS Digital has published dementia and antipsychotic drug prescription data for first time – Alzheimer’s Society comments

The data has been published as part of an expansion of the monthly Recorded Dementia Diagnoses report, and accounts for figures submitted by 98.8% of GPs in England.

The report found that:

9.4 per cent of patients with a recorded dementia diagnosis were prescribed antipsychotic medication in the 6 weeks to 30 November 2017.

Dominic Carter, Senior Policy Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'For the vast majority of people with dementia, antipsychotic drugs are an outdated and inappropriate way to treat some of the behavioural symptoms  that can be associated with dementia. They can increase risk of death, likelihood of stroke and accelerate cognitive decline, as well as having a profound effect on quality of life, leaving people heavily sedated.

'This data shows around 1 in 10 people with a diagnosis receive a prescription of antipsychotics, which suggests over the years usage is reducing. However, the stark variation across the country, with some areas having a prescribing rate up to six times higher than others, indicates there is still much to be done to reduce numbers and ensure consistent practice across the board, no matter where people live. The recording of this data and sharing it publicly is a step towards helping us achieve this.

'People with dementia can have complex needs, and while prescribing antipsychotics may still prove the best option in limited cases, they should not be used as a substitute for understanding the condition and the person behind it.'

Read more about treatments for dementia