An immediate review into the use of anti-psychotic drugs to treat sufferers of dementia was announced yesterday by Health Minister Ivan Lewis.
As he launched a consultation which will produce the first National Dementia Strategy in the autumn, Mr Lewis said that the review of prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs will be completed before this strategy is published.
Neil Hunt, who is chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said it was a “landmark day” and described the review as “urgently needed”.
Mr Lewis said the strategy, due out in October, will have three main aims: to ensure early diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia, to improve the quality of their care and to increase awareness of dementia and remove the stigma associated with it.
There are currently an estimated 570,000 people with dementia in England – 700,000 in the whole of the UK – and the Government expects that to more than double to 1.4 million in the next 30 years.
The direct costs of dementia to the NHS are currently estimated at around £3.3 billion per year and the NHS in England spent £60.9 million on dementia drugs alone during 2005.
The consultation which was launched yesterday will run from June 19 to September 11.