NHS releases latest stats on mental health medicines
NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has released its latest data via the Medicines Used in Mental Health report, covering April to June 2021.
A decrease in the number of drugs prescribed for dementia was statistically significant, as there were 481,000 fewer drugs prescribed than expected based on past trends.
Drugs for dementia did not show a downward trend for this period, a change from the downwards trend over the last year, with 997,000 drugs for dementia prescribed. This is a two per cent increase from 982,000 items in the previous quarter, but it is a four per cent decrease from 1.04 million items in the same quarter in 2020/21.
Although not statistically significant, another of the key findings is that in the 16-month period since the COVID-19 lockdown between March 2020 and June 2021 – there were 1.2 million more antidepressant drugs prescribed than expected based on historical trends.
Between April to June 2021 there were 20.5 million antidepressant drugs prescribed. This is a two per cent increase from 20.2 million items in the previous quarter (three months), and a seven per cent increase from 19.2 million items for the same period in 2020/21.
The report covers five main groups of medicines: Hypnotics and anxiolytics (used to treat insomnia and anxiety); antidepressants; drugs for dementia; drugs used in psychoses and related disorders; and central nervous system (CNS) stimulants and drugs used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The data is based on community prescribing and excludes hospitals and prisons.
To see the full statistical reports follow the links below:
Latest release - Quarterly (April – June 2021): https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/statistical-collections/medicines-used-mental-health-england/medicines-used-mental-health-england-quarterly-summary-statistics-april-june-2021
Annual publication: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/statistical-collections/medicines-used-mental-health-england/medicines-used-mental-health-england-201516-202021
For dates of upcoming statistical publication releases, including the annual Prescriptions Cost Analysis, visit: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/announcements/statistical-publication-calendar
Notes to editors
- Prescription ‘items’ refer to individual drugs or inhalers etc on a prescription form, however a ‘prescription’ can include multiple medicines on it.
- These statistics are based on the financial year and not on the calendar year as some other sources of data may be.
- 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. Due to this, these statistics may not give a completely accurate estimation of the population receiving treatment for a specific mental health condition. Drug therapy is just one way that mental health conditions can be treated. These statistics do not tell us how many patients access other forms of treatment, such as psychological therapy.
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