NHS releases latest mental health medicines statistics
NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has released its latest Medicines Used in Mental Health (England) report, now including new data from April to June 2023.
The data is presented over a rolling five-year period to help show any trends and patterns.
Key findings show that in this period, 22 million antidepressant items were prescribed to an estimated 6.7 million identified patients.
The cost of prescribed antidepressant items was £60 million; and prescribing of drugs for dementia items remained below expected values based on pre-pandemic trends.
It was also found that prescribing of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and drugs for ADHD items increased by 3.6% over the same period to 710,000 items, with identified patients increasing by 5.6% to 200,000. These were the largest changes of all drug groups in this publication.
Drugs for dementia also showed an increase of 1% for both prescribing and number of identified patients.
Hypnotics and anxiolytics saw a 2.4% decrease in prescribed items from the previous quarter and 3.2% fewer identified patients.
Drugs used in psychoses and related disorders showed a decrease in prescribing and identified patients, both of less than 1%.
Notes to editors
Here’s a summary of findings for each drug category (based on BNF Section*) below.
Hypnotics and anxiolytics –
- 3.4 million hypnotics and anxiolytics items were prescribed to an estimated 1.0 million identified patients.
- The cost of prescribed hypnotics and anxiolytics items was £29 million.
Drugs used in psychoses and related disorders –
- 3.3 million antipsychotic items were prescribed to an estimated 650,000 identified patients.
- The cost of prescribed antipsychotic items was £41 million.
Antidepressant drugs –
- 22 million antidepressant items were prescribed to an estimated 6.7 million identified patients.
- The cost of prescribed antidepressant items was £60 million.
Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and drugs used for ADHD –
- 710,000 CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD items were prescribed to an estimated 200,000 identified patients.
- The cost of prescribed CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD items was £30 million.
Drugs for dementia –
- 1.1 million drugs for dementia items were prescribed to an estimated 250,000 identified patients.
- The cost of prescribed drugs for dementia items was £6.7 million.
Prescribing during the COVID-19 pandemic –
- Antidepressants, hypnotics and anxiolytics, and antipsychotics have generally remained within the range of values expected based on pre-pandemic trends.
- CNS stimulants and drugs for ADHD have continued to increase beyond the range of expected items to be prescribed.
- Prescribing of drugs for dementia items has consistently been below the range of expected values for the previous 2 years.
Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc. on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription form’ can include multiple medicines on it.
‘Identified patients’ are those patients whose NHS numbers were available (this only excludes a small number), please see the introduction of the report for a full explanation.
These medicines are classified by their main usage. However, they can sometimes be prescribed for other reasons. For example, some antidepressants can be used to treat people suffering from chronic primary pain. We don’t capture this at NHSBSA during processing, and so can’t determine the reason that a prescription was issued.
BNF - This publication uses the British National Formulary (BNF) classification, which lists medicines used in the UK and classifies them according to their primary therapeutic use.