Dementia patients given ‘archaic’ drugs

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Hundreds of dementia patients in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, which increase risk of stroke and can accelerate the symptoms of the disease, it has been revealed.

The Alzheimer’s Society has warned that the drugs are an “archaic and inappropriate” way to treat most people living with dementia.

At the end of June, 606 dementia patients in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group area had been prescribed antipsychotics in the previous six weeks, NHS Digital figures show.

Of those, at least 419 – more than two thirds of patients –were given the medication despite not being diagnosed with psychosis.

Overall, 6,917 people with dementia live in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. That means nine per cent of them had been given antipsychotic medication in the previous six weeks.

Fiona Carragher, the Alzheimer’s Society’s chief policy and research officer, said: “These drugs should be used only as a last resort.

“They can increase the risk of death, treble the risk of stroke and accelerate cognitive decline.

“People with dementia are falling prey to a stretched system, and it’s high time the Government created a joined-up system to deliver decent dementia care to everyone who needs it.”

NHS England said that progress is being made on curbing the use of antipsychotic drugs.

A spokesperson said: “The NHS Long Term Plan commits to going even further in improving care, including rolling out support from GPs, pharmacists and other health staff to review prescriptions for people in care homes.”