RCPsych advocates for safe and effective prescribing for those with an intellectual disability and/or autism

Online news
17 August 2021

A new position statement published today by the Royal College of Psychiatrists helps clinicians to consistently provide those with an intellectual disability and/or autism with the safe and effective prescribing they are entitled to expect.

People with intellectual disability and/or autism should receive the best care possible for any physical or mental health condition that they might have. This includes an expectation that the medication they receive is prescribed in an evidence-based and safe way. 

Sadly, we know from cases, such as what occurred at Winterbourne View Hospital in 2012, that this has not always happened. In that instance, it was determined that people were using medications without there being clear clinical indications for needing them.  

The debate that followed regarding people with intellectual disability and people with autism using psychotropic medication has helped make a big impact in improving clinical practice. For psychiatrists and prescribers, the challenge is to use medication carefully to avoid the unnecessary and inappropriate use of such potent drugs.  

That is why the Royal College of Psychiatrists have published this Position Statement in support of Stopping the overmedication of people with intellectual disability, autism or both (STOMP) and supporting treatment and appropriate medication in paediatrics (STAMP) programmes

This document is an important part of the College’s commitment to the needs of these patients. It advocates clear prescribing practices and encourages seeking alternatives to medication, with the support of family carers and multi-disciplinary clinical teams.  

We commend it to all prescribers supporting people with intellectual disability and/or autism. 

Dr Ken Courtenay, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Intellectual Disability Faculty said: 

“The pandemic has only reinforced what we already knew; those with intellectual disability and/or autism are vulnerable to poorer health outcomes. They often experience a wider range of other health conditions that require treatment than the general population. Therefore, effective prescribing is particularly crucial to them, this position statement building on the principles of the STOMP-STAMP programmes offers an excellent opportunity to improve care for this group of patients.”