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NHS England renews drive to stop overmedicating people with learning disabilities

NHS England is asking more health care professionals to pledge to stop overmedicating people with learning disabilities.

The renewed drive to widen support, Stopping Over Medication of People with a Learning Disability (STOMP), is being backed by the government and urges NHS trusts, CCGs and those in the independent sector to review and seek alternatives to prescribing psychotropic drugs.

It is estimated that around 35,000 adults with a learning disability, autism or both are being prescribed an antipsychotic and/or an antidepressant without appropriate clinical justification.

STOMP asks clinicians to pledge to help to make sure that psychotropic drugs are only used for the right reason, in the right amounts, for as short a time as possible.

Long-term use of these drugs can cause complications, such as significant weight gain, organ failure and sometimes death.

The STOMP pledge was launched in 2016 with the support of several professional bodies, including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Psychological Society.

A STOMP pledge for social care then came the following year and over 60 providers have now signed up to the pledge.

But NHS England now wants all healthcare providers to commit to the pledge to “work together, and with people with a learning disability and their loved ones, to take real and measurable steps to stop over-medication”.

John Trevains, NHS England’s head of mental health and learning disability nursing, explained that it is important that people only receive these medications when all other approaches have been considered.

“Everyone, including the person with a learning disability, autism or both, and their families, needs to be involved in the decision-making and clear about why such medication is needed.

“They need to be aware of the serious side effects and understand how often and when the medication will be reviewed,” he said.

Caroline Dinenage, care minister with responsibility for learning disabilities and autism, said that she is “deeply concerned” about the overprescribing of these medicines to manage behaviours that are seen as “challenging”.

“The development of a pledge for healthcare providers builds on this existing good work and will allow organisations to showcase how a person’s care is being improved through the principles of STOMP.

“I now challenge all healthcare providers to sign up to this important pledge initiative and truly focus their efforts to transform peoples’ lives,” she added.

Top image: zneb076


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