The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has joined forces with NHS England, minister of state for community and social care Alistair Burt, and other professional bodies to launch a guidance document to support prescribers to review inappropriate prescriptions for psychotropic drugs in people with a learning disability and/or autism.
The guidance runs alongside a pledge to tackle the over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs that occurs in the case of an estimated 35,000 adults with learning disabilities.
“For far too long people with learning disabilities have received poor healthcare,” says Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board. “This group of patients are frequently prescribed antidepressants, sedatives and mood stabilisers in order to manage episodes of ill-health or challenging behaviour, which are not subsequently reviewed. These medicines can cause serious side effects, poor health and even premature death,” she adds.
The Stopping Over-Medication of People with a Learning Disability (STOMPLD) pledge has been signed by the Royal Colleges of Nursing, Psychiatrists and GPs, as well as the RPS, the British Psychological Society and NHS England at a summit in London on 1 June 2016. It commits each to “work together, and with people with a learning disability and their loved ones, to take real and measurable steps to stop over-medication”.
Bruce Keogh, national medical director at NHS England, says: “Reducing use of powerful drugs whenever we can is a good thing. We have managed this successfully in dementia; it’s now time to bring similar benefits to patients who have a learning disability.”
Gidley adds: “This pledge should act as a trigger to all health professionals to ensure that over-medication becomes a thing of the past. People with learning disabilities deserve better. A person-centred review should take place regularly and ideally every time a medicine is changed.”