GPs look set to face severe sanctions

GPs look set to face severe sanctions

By William Smith

Last year, in June, the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement along with the Dementia Action Alliance launched a ‘call to action’ on the prescription of antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients.  Hospitals, GPs and mental care teams were told to conduct a clinical review of all such patients and to consider alternative treatments and agree a care plan by 31st March.

In an article in the Pulse it has been revealed that GPs look set to face severe sanctions for prescribing antipsychotics to older patients after a Pulse investigation revealed that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are failing to implement this initiative.  Pulse further suggests that these sanctions on GPs could even include the possibility of jail.

A Pulse survey revealed that the call for change has gone unheeded in many areas and that some PCTs admit that they are yet to review a single patient.  Thirty two trusts responded to the Pulse survey with the result that only one PCT has come close to meeting the target.  Sandwell PCT has reviewed and drawn up care plans for 97% of patients.

Twenty six of the PCTs who were surveyed said they had no idea how many patients had been reviewed since the call to action.  However, eleven said programmes were in place and six expected that 100% of patients would be reviewed by the deadline.

Last November health minister Paul Burstow described the call to action as a ‘turning point’ in the Department of Health’s campaign to reduce antipsychotic prescribing by two-thirds.  He also warned that he would review progress and if that target had not been met he would take ‘whatever steps necessary’ to cut anti-psychotics prescribing.  He said that if found necessary he would seek to amend the Mental Capacity Act to permit imprisonment of those who prescribed the drugs without permission.

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