Antipsychotic prescriptions for people with dementia have reduced by 52 per cent in three years, according to an audit carried out by the NHS Information Centre on Tuesday. The audit collected data from more than 3,800 GP practices in England, with information about nearly 197,000 people with dementia.

The 52 per cent reduction is between 2008 and 2011. It was also found that there were strong regional variations, with rates of prescribing of antipsychotic drugs up to six times higher in some areas than others.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This momentous achievement is not just about statistics, it is about the lives of tens of thousands of people with dementia. Credit is due to the many doctors, nurses and care workers without whom this would not have been possible. It also reflects the hard work of campaigning organisations such as Alzheimer's Society to raise awareness and change opinions.

However, there are still tens of thousands more people - both diagnosed and undiagnosed - having their lives put at risk by these drugs and some parts of the country are failing to reach the mark.

Now is the time to move from fourth gear to fifth to ensure everyone's prescriptions are reviewed and that only those people who benefit are kept on antipsychotics. They must only be a last resort.'