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Pharmacists ordered to do checks on care homes amid fears elderly are

first_imgShe said:  “Our overstretched NHS is crying out for solutions and this one is bang on target.”Too often, elderly patients were put on extra drugs, without being taken off existing medication, leaving many taking dangerous combinations, she said.“Medicines get added to prescriptions over time to treat different problems and before you know it residents are on a cocktail of drugs which interact badly, make them ill and lead to unnecessary hospital admissions,” she said.New figures from NHS Digital show the number of prescriptions issued for antidepressants continues to rise, with a doubling from 33.8 million in 2007 to 67.5 million prescriptions last yearMeanwhile, the number of prescriptions for opiate-based painkillers rose by 78 per cent from 13.4 million to 23.8 million prescriptions over the same period, while prescriptions for statins rose by 53 per cent, from 47.4 million to 72.6 million.Last month a new study found deaths from addictive painkillers have almost doubled in a decade as trends in Britain follow “alarming” US patterns.The study led by University College London Hospital found a sharp rise in prescribing of opioid drugs, despite repeated warnings that the drugs should not be given for long periods because of their addictive qualities.It came after ministers ordered a landmark review of prescription drug addiction, amid concern over the rising number of people becoming hooked on painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants in midlife and old age. Show more They are concerned that vulnerable people are being left for years on a cocktail of drugs, leaving them heavily sedated or exposed to dangerous side-effects which are risking lives and fuelling hospital admissions.The average care home resident takes seven drugs, with medication for dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes among those commonly taken.But some of the drugs interact with each other, while others, such as opiate-based painkillers and sleeping pills, can become addictive or cause major health problems. One in ten pensioners over the age of 75 is on at least 10 different drugs, NHS prescribing data shows, with statins, sleeping pills and opiates among the most common medications.Health officials are to fund 240 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to go into care homes across the country, working with GPs, starting by assessing the medication of around 180,000 patients.   Pharmacists are to carry out checks on every care home in the country amid fears that thousands of elderly people are being subjected to the ‘chemical cosh’.Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS, will today order the deployment of hundreds of pharmacists to review medication being routinely doled out.The chief executive raised fears that a generation of pensioners has become increasingly doped up on a cocktail of drugs, causing more harm than it solves, fuelling record hospital admissions.He spoke as new figures show the number of prescriptions issued for painkillers and anti-depressants have almost doubled in a decade, with 91 million issued last year.Mr Stevens told The Telegraph: “There’s increasing evidence that our parents and their friends – a whole generation of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s – are being overmedicated in care homes, with bad results.“Let’s face it – the policy of ‘a pill for every ill’ is often causing frail older people more health problems than it’s solving,” he added, as he outlined a new national policy to review the medicines issued to residents of care homes across England.center_img Pilot NHS schemes in six areas of the country found such checks could reduce hospital admissions by up to a fifth and ambulance call outs by a third.One scheme found that every 12 reviews resulted in one less patient ending up being readmitted to hospital, after being discharged to a care home.Sandra Gidley, chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed the schemes, which will be rolled out across the country. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A whole generation of people in their 70s, 80s and 90s are being overmedicated in care homes, with bad resultsSimon Stevenslast_img read more