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Minister for Health launches new National Clinical Guideline on Appropriate prescribing of psychotropic medication for non-cognitive symptoms in people with dementia.

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD today (Thursday) launched a new National Clinical Guideline on the appropriate prescribing of psychotropic medication for non-cognitive symptoms in people with dementia.

The guideline was developed by a multidisciplinary group supported by the HSE's National Dementia Office and the Offices of the National Directors for Acute and Community Operations. The guideline was quality assured by the Department of Health's National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) under the chairmanship of Professor Karen Ryan.  The guideline development group was Co-chaired by Dr Suzanne Timmons and Professor Stephen Byrne.

Dementia is a major healthcare concern and global issue. Increasing dementia rates, costs and burden of disease are placing significant pressures on health, economic and social care systems in many countries, including Ireland.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister Harris said

Clearly dementia will continue to have a significant impact on our society and individuals. The development and implementation of this National Clinical Guideline represents another important step towards the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy.

It is anticipated that this guideline will improve patient outcomes by ensuring appropriate use of psychotropic medication in people with dementia. In addition, it is hoped that the implementation of this guideline will result in reduced medication costs, as well as reduced health and social care costs related to psychotropic medication adverse events.

I want to congratulate all those who have worked together to bring this guideline to launch today.

The Co-chair of the Guideline Development Group and Clinical Lead in the HSE’s  National Dementia Office, Dr Suzanne Timmons, commented that

This National Clinical Guideline provides evidence-based recommendations on the indications and risks of psychotropic medications for a person with dementia who has non-cognitive symptoms, such as anxiety or agitation. Psychotropic medications include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines, among others. We are confident that if the guideline is fully supported and implemented nationally, it will lead to improved assessment of a person who has dementia and non-cognitive symptoms, reduced inappropriate use of psychotropic medications, and ultimately improved quality of life for people living with dementia.

Mr Kevin Quaid, Vice chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group said

I very much welcome the publication of the National Clinical Guideline for Psychotropics in Dementia. As a person living with dementia, I fear inappropriate prescribing and how the wrong drugs could impact my health and quality of life.  People with dementia have emotions like the rest of the population, and these emotions should not be controlled by medication. Instead our right to respect and to full participation in planning and deciding our care and treatment should be acknowledged.

The publication of this guideline will ensure that people with dementia, their families and clinicians will have access to guidelines that will ensure psychotropic medication is prescribed in a way that is safe and effective and that upholds our rights.  I congratulate the National Dementia Office led by Dr Suzanne Timmons on this important work.

Notes to the Editor

The guideline is available on the Department of Health website.

National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC)

Clinical effectiveness is a key component of patient safety. The integration of best evidence in service provision, through clinical effectiveness processes, promotes healthcare that is up to date, effective and consistent. Clinical effectiveness processes include guidelines, audit and practice guidance. The NCEC is a multi-stakeholder committee appointed by the Minister for Health and includes public involvement.

NCEC Terms of Reference

1.        Provide strategic leadership for the national clinical effectiveness agenda.

2.        Contribute to national patient safety and quality improvement agendas.

3.        Publish standards for clinical practice guidance.

4.        Publish guidance for National Clinical Guidelines and National Clinical Audit.

5.        Prioritise and quality assure National Clinical Guidelines and National Clinical Audit.

6.        Commission National Clinical Guidelines and National Clinical Audit.

7.        Align National Clinical Guidelines and National Clinical Audit with implementation levers.

8.        Report periodically on the implementation and impact of National Clinical Guidelines and the performance of National Clinical Audit.

9.        Establish sub-committees for NCEC work-streams.

10.        Publish an Annual Report. Further information about the NCEC and National Clinical Guidelines is available on the Department of Health website.

National Dementia Office

The National Dementia Office (NDO) was established in 2015 in accordance with the launch of the National Dementia Strategy (2014). The NDO provides leadership at a system level for the implementation of the strategy. Its role and function is to oversee the implementation, monitoring, and ongoing evaluation of the National Dementia Strategy.

The NDO is established under the remit of the National Social Care Division HSE.

Further information about the National Dementia Office is available