Action to tackle over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs

02 Jun 2016

The RPS has joined forces with NHS England and other professional bodies to pledge action to tackle the over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs to people with learning disabilities. The Stopping Over-Medication of People with Learning Disability (STOMPLD) pledge was also signed by the Department of Health, Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, British Psychological Society, and supported by the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. 

An estimated 35,000 adults with a learning disability are being prescribed an antipyschotic, an antidepressant or both, without appropriate clinical justification. Long term use of these drugs can lead to significant weight gain, organ failure, and in some cases, death. 

The pledge commits each of the signatories to "work together, and with people with a learning disability and their loved ones to take real measurable steps to stop over-medication". 

RPS English Board Chair Sandra Gidley said: “For far too long people with learning disabilities have received poor health care. 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.

“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.”