§ Siobhain McDonagh
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he gives regarding the prevention of abuse of older people in hospitals and care homes through the over-use of sedative and anti-psychotic medication. 
§ Mr. Hutton
All prescribing for older people in hospital, residential and nursing home care should be undertaken and monitored carefully by the doctor who has clinical responsibility for that particular aspect of a patient's care.
In 1998 the Department published a joint report with the National Prescribing Centre on general practitioner prescribing support. This document provides many examples of good practice, including advice and support on prescribing in residential and nursing homes. Age Concern also published a report in 1998 'Drugs and Dementia' which provides a guide to good practice in this area. In particular, it recommends regular reviews of prescriptions and that attempts should be made to reduce dosages of neuroleptics at least every six months.
It is intended that national minimum standards will require care homes to have a policy, and staff to adhere to procedures, for the receipt, recording, storage, handling, administration and disposal of medicines.
The Controls Assurance Initiative, launched in November 1999, sets out the organisational controls expected to be in place in hospitals across a range of areas. In March 2000, a revised controls assurance standard was issued on Safe and Secure Handling of Medicines (Medicines Management). This standard requires an auditable trail to be established for the supply, administration and disposal of medicines.
The National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People will set national standards and define service models for older people's health and social care. The NSF will also emphasise the importance of this area of clinical practice.