DCP The Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both (STOMP) ​

What is the STOMP project?

Detailed information about the STOMP project can be found on NHS England’s website

In summary, in July 2015 research commissioned by NHS England on the prescription of psychotropic drugs to people with learning disabilities was published in a number of reports, including those by Public Health England and NHS Improving Quality. The research found that:

  • There is a much higher rate of prescribing of medicines associated with mental health difficulties amongst people with learning disabilities than the general population, often including more than one medicine in the same class, and in the majority of cases with no clear justification
  • Medicines are often used for long periods of time without adequate review
  • There is poor communication with parents and carers, and between different healthcare providers

The Public Health England report estimated that up to 35,000 adults with a learning disability were being prescribed an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or both without appropriate clinical justification.

Although there is limited evidence on the side-effects of psychotropic medications for people with learning disabilities, research with other groups of people has highlighted an increased risk of sedation, weight gain, anticholinergic effects, stroke and mortality. These medications are therefore thought likely to cause significant harm for some people with learning disabilities.

Following these reports, NHS England led a ‘call to action’ which brought together representatives of professional, expert by experience and carer groups to make sure changes were made to these inappropriate practices. This led to a pledge to reduce over medication and the start of STOMP. The 3 year project runs until 2019. 

What are the aims of STOMP?

STOMP is about making sure people get the right medicine if they need it and that people get all the help they need in other ways as well. It is about encouraging people to have regular medication reviews, supporting health professionals to involve people in decisions about their care and showing how families and social care providers can be involved. STOMP also aims to improve awareness of nondrug therapies and practical ways of supporting people whose behaviour is seen as challenging.

What is the role of the British Psychological Society in STOMP?

The Society was one of the original signatories to the STOMP project pledge, which was launched on 1 st June 2016. The STOMP programme links to the objectives of the Society, especially through improving the awareness and use of the ‘alternatives to medication’, which are predominantly psychologically informed approaches. A key role for the Society is the general promotion of these alternatives and providing support to enable the challenge of prescribing practice where there are queries about its quality. In addition, the Society aims to support its members who work in learning disability services to influence and take a lead role in systemic changes in their teams, so as to reduce the likelihood of inappropriate prescribing, increase the robustness of medication review and improve the provision of the alternatives to medication.

What are the BPS actions in relation to STOMP?

The Society actions in relation to STOMP have been coordinated through its Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities (FPID) of the Division of Clinical Psychology. 

Although the Society’s work is being coordinated by FPID, there is a role for all members who come in to contact with people with learning disabilities.

Where can I get more information?

STOMP Leaflet

NHS England’s STOMP website

The Society’s Faculty for People with Intellectual Disabilities guidance on ‘Psychological therapies and people who have Intellectual disabilities’

Royal College of Psychiatry practice guidelines on ‘Psychotropic drug prescribing for people with intellectual disability, mental health problems and/or behaviours that challenge’

STOMP toolkit for Social Care providers

STOMP toolkit for GP prescribers

Further questions can also be directed to Julian Morris and Becky Goodey from FPID.