Practitioners in primary care are overprescribing antipsychotic drugs to adults with learning disabilities, according to figures from Public Health England.
The study found that one in six adults with a learning disability was prescribed drugs usually used to treat long-term mental illnesses.
Over half of these people did not have a diagnosis of a condition which these drugs are designed to treat, including psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
Jonathan Beebee, a member of the RCN's learning disability nursing forum, said: 'There are no medications that "treat" challenging behaviour, learning disability or autism. Antipsychotic medications may be prescribed during crisis to calm the situation, but unfortunately when the challenges reduce the easy option is to step back and consider the problem to be solved.'
Daniel Marsden from @WeLDNurses Twitter group, said: 'LD nurses have the abilities, skills and knowledge to support individuals, families and services to minimise and manage these behaviours without the requirements of these medications, but as NHS England observes prevention is key. We challenge NHS England to facilitate real collaboration between general practice and primary care services and local learning disabilities teams to enable proactive interventions.'
NHS England has promised rapid action to tackle this. Professional and patient group representatives will come together for an urgent summit to establish an action plan. The data was collected in collaboration with researchers from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.