It is the first time the scale of the abuse in hospital wards is exposed, following warnings that 100,000 dementia patients in care homes are prescribed the drugs leading to the deaths of 23,000 a year
Three quarters of nurses have seen people with dementia in general wards in hospital prescribed antipsychotic drugs that are known to double the risk of death and triple the risk of a stroke in these patients, research has shown.
It is the first time the scale of the abuse in hospital wards is exposed, following warnings that 100,000 dementia patients in care homes are prescribed the drugs leading to the deaths of 23,000 a year.
Ten leading charities, carers groups and experts have written to The Daily Telegraph saying: "We cannot stand by while this scandalous abuse of vulnerable citizens continues."
Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: "The massive over prescription of antipsychotics to people with dementia is an abuse of human rights, causing serious side effects and increasing risk of death. These powerful drugs should only be used in a small number of cases. The Government must take action to ensure that these drugs are only ever used as a last resort."
They have called on the government to publish its long-overdue review of the use of antipsychotics which ministers promised would be out in May of this year.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: "While the Department of Health prevaricates, thousands of people are being put at risk through the misuse of antipsychotics."
There are 700,000 people in Britain with dementia and the numbers are rising rapidly.
Antipsychotics have a sedative effect and are not licensed for use in dementia but are prescribed when patients become agitated or difficult and often then are left on them for long periods.