Refused ventolin repeat prescription

For the past 8 years I have had a good relationship with my doctor and nurse. I have a Asthma Action Plan which is reviewed every 3 months and have a repeat prescription for my inhalers.

Today I received a call from a receptionist who said I could no longer have a ventolin inhaler. I asked why. The reply was that another doctor to who I usually see said I do not need one. I have never seen this doctor, she does not know my medical history. I was told I needed to be seen by her on Wednesday. I said I am seeing my own doctor on Wednesday so I would discuss it with her. The receptionist then said my own doctor could not overrule her decision.

I have other medical problems. So on Wednesday at 9am I have a double appointment with my own doctor that was made 2 weeks ago. I will tell her what has happened. Then I will have to go home and then go back to the medical centre at 11.40 am to see this other doctor who I have never seen before.

I have ME and CFS and I am having a major flare up. I live in a rural location and I do not need this worry or hassle.

I have been on ventolin for 20 years, have been on nebulizers and prednisalone.

I feel this is unjust and I now have to worry till Wednesday, I am really Fed up and don't know why this is happening.

32 Replies

  • The immediate concern is do you have enough ventolin to see you through to when you see the doctor?

    I have to admit I'm somewhat astonished by this. No GP at the practice I go to has ever refused me an asthma medication that is down as a repeat prescription. That said my husband did have medication for seasonal rhinitis refused by a receptionist and was told he would need to see a doctor, but that was because he had not needed to request any for a couple of years. Even so, the last time I requested ventolin inhalers I hadn't requested one for a good couple of years and didn't have a problem.

    Is this doctor new to the practice?

  • Thanks for the quick reply. No the doctor has been there for a year or two. I do have enough untill Wednesday. The receptionist was really abrupt with me.

    I'm on the patient participation group panel and I know they are already over budget for this year and I wonder are they trying to cut costs. Their last CQC review also failed in prescribing conditions not up to standards and record keeping.

    I guess I will just have to wait until Wednesday. Hope you don't mind if I keep you updated after my appointments.

    I'm so glad you replied, I just had to let someone know.

    many thanks.

  • If it is to do with cost cutting I'm flabberghasted they think refusing ventolin to a known asthmatic is a responsible measure they can take.

    I will admit that I make a point of making sure that I know all the GPs at my medical practice. If I need to see a doctor urgently there is no guarantee I will get to see my usual GP so knowing all of them can help to reduce the risk of a misunderstanding.

    It's possible the reason the receptionist was abrupt with you is because she knew the decision by that doctor was a) controversial and b) was unlikely to be received well by the patient. Given that, not wanting to linger in what might be considered 'a firing line' is perhaps understandable:-).

    Please do keep me updated. I'm fascinated to know the reasoning behind this decision.


  • I have never heard of any gp denying anyone life saving medication and that's what it is. And one gp saying they can't write one for you and your own gp can't overwrite it well that is just rubbish. If that is your named gp or not they can do unless there is some medical reason why you couldn't but that would of been mentioned and for the receptionist to be ringing you and discussing your medical problems is wrong and a reportable complaint.

    Please don't worry they can't deny you an inhaler we know how important they are and so do gp's x

  • Thank you.

    I have been so worried. I agree the receptionist should not have been discussing my medical history.

    I am finding this so unprofessional even bordering on ludicrous.

    I am now seriously considering making a complaint, I am not a person to make waves but this has really made me feel uncomfortable.

    Thanks for the support.

  • I agree you have grounds for a complaint to the practice manager. Asthma kills three people every day in the UK. Denying a known asthmatic a prescribed life saving medication could result in an extremely serious medical situation. I doubt the practice manager would want to risk that happening and then having to deal with the repercussions.

  • No problem and I would put a complaint in to the practice manager about receptionist and the gp who denying your ventolin x sometimes we got to make waves

  • I have just been experiencing the same problem getting Ventolin from my GP surgery. They used to issue me 4 at a time but now seem to like to issue one at a time. I have had a couple of a bad asthma attacks in the last couple of months following chest infection, viral infection, hay fever, etc. and have been using the inhaler quite frequently. I have been questioned on what I have been doing with it by the asthma nurse and doctor. They appear to only want to prescribe one inhaler at a time. I feel quite vulnerable not having a spare as I worry it will run out. I think it must be a new policy with doctors surgeries.

    I was contemplating writing a letter of complaint but as I am seeing a doctor next week I am going to bring the subject up with her and see what she says about the situation. I think it is very bad to limit medication to people with a life threatening condition. Asthma can turn from quite mild to quite aggressive in a very short space of time and can be frightening. It is no good quoting theory about how many times an inhaler should be used when we are not dealing in theory but the fact of an asthma attack.

  • Hi,

    GP practices are 1 cost cutting as medication comes out of the surgeries funding. 2 some people abuse their medication or wastage as medication can go out of date. 3 it all depends on each doctor or asthma nurse. 4 Have regular asthma reviews.

    I did actually put a complaint in to the practice about how my problem was handled. After a regular clinician meeting the practice decided to overhaul the whole prescribing situation.

    Any way. All I can say to you is to have 1 blue inhaler that you use in home and another blue inhaler for when you are out and about and one for a spare. The same applies for the brown, pink, purple, red inhalers.

    Then at least you know their is always one available in emergencies.

    Discuss this with your doctor/nurse and hopefully they will agree to this.

    Hope I have tried to help you. Keep in touch and let me know how you get on😃.

  • One other thing. I understand completely that this has unsettled you - in your position I'm certain I would feel the same way - but please try not to get too stressed. I know that sometimes that's easier said than done , but stress is not helpful for Asthmatics.

    I also live in a rural area. Does your practice have an in house pharmacy?

  • Yes, the medical centre does have an in-house pharmacy. I have never had any problems with them before. They know me as I collect from them every month. As I collect my medicine they automatically put the repeat in there and then, so I always know what date to pick up my next lot and as I said before I have asthma reviews every 3 months, so I really can't see what the problem is....?

  • The only reason I can think of for a GP to refuse ventolin to a known asthmatic is if someone is on the Symbicort smart regime where you have one inhaler which acts as reliever and preventer.

    Another GP can absolutely over rule a decision made by another doctor if they feel the decision was wrong and that a specific treatment is right for the patient. Plus you are entitled to a second opinion, so by that simple logic another doctor can disagree with their colleague over a specified treatment.

    As long as you have enough medication left to tide you over until you see your GP that is good. I would wait to see what your regular GP say on the matter as they might be able to clear up the confusion over why you were refused and hopefully prescribe your medications, and you might be able to cancel the second appointment with the unknown doctor.

  • As far as I know I am not on that regime and have never heard of that before. Roll on Wednesday.

  • I hope you get sorted out

  • I have Symbicort and Ventolin. Was told I still need the ventolin. I use the Symbicort two puffs in the morning and two in the evening but can increase both to four each if I need to. Plus the ventolin.

    My sister has the same inhalers and she is at a different surgery to mine. Is this a standard policy? I hope not as I am definitely still needing the ventolin though the Symbicort is helping too.

  • I am also on symbicort and ventolin. However, the last time I saw the nurse she talked of the SMART regime, but didn't put me on it, mainly, I suspect, as I was on such high dose of symbicort there was nowhere else I could go with it. The general idea with SMART is that you can increase your symbicort when you feel the need, as the symbicort is a reliever and a preventer in one. When I have read up about it it seems though that the idea is that you do not take ventolin, but instead take symbicort when you need a bit extra. It seems to have good outcomes. However, like you,mimdo like the idea also to have ventolin, for those moments when I am out of puff (walking up hill) but know it will get better quite quickly, rather than chest infection stuff., or more serious situations.

  • I think they are trialing the SMART Regime with people whose asthma seems to be more under control, but I could be wrong with this.

  • I have never heard such nonsense! Fuming for you 😡😡 as already stated if your own doctor prescribed it it has nothing to do with this other one. Cost cutting may be a consideration re medication but to a known asthmatic. it's ridiculous. Yes, they may invite you into review your medication and make changes during you consultation based on clinical evidence. This would be good practice. I too will be interested in how you get on. I also live in middle of nowhere and minutes can be valuable.

    Did anyone else read this morning re a five yr old little girl with severe asthma and had several life threatening hospital admissions being refused her appointment with the gp because they were 4mins late. The mum had to dial 999 and little girl died few hours later in hospital! The gp got a warning and she moved to a different practice. What in gods name is the matter with these doctors.

    Keep well and be safe above all else. I've ended up on antibiotics and steroids again. Remain blessed.

  • Thanks for your comment and support I will keep you updated on the outcome.

  • Sorry for such an angry response. I was so so annoyed for you. Hope you are ok.

  • Perhaps it could be the named brand Ventolin the doctor doesn't want to prescribe? When I switched to a new doctor last year and had a review to organise my repeat prescriptions, the doctor told me that they're not permitted to prescribe Ventolin, it has to be generic salbutamol instead (cost-saving reasons in the area), which I believe is the same thing. I'm still given actual Ventolin from my pharmacy though, but on my repeat prescription it's listed as salbutamol, perhaps so that they can interchange brands depending on whatever's cheaper. Anyway, I very much hope it's something along these lines instead of the doctor denying you an inhaler completely.

  • I'd be staggered if your usual GP refused to represcribe the Ventolin. As for the idea that one doctor would not overrule another, this is simply nonsense. GPs have the discretion to prescribe whatever they think appropriate in the circumstances, hence the reason you are able to get a second opinion. I think you'll be OK tomorrow - try not to worry. In the worst case scenario, you could probably buy it over the counter until someone sees sense!

  • Could the doctor who has - temporarily at least - declined your prescription have checked the frequency of your scripts and concluded you are taking too much Ventolin for your own good?

    In other words, if the average daily dose that your frequency of scripts suggests you are taking is alarmingly high, that might be a reason for wanting to talk to you before issuing another script.

  • No, if that was the case I would not have published this on the forum.

  • Hi All,

    Many Thanks to everyone who sent me messages of support and kept me sane over the past 2 days.

    I saw my own doctor this morning as planned. I told her straight away about the phone call from the receptionist and the other doctor refusing to give me Ventolin. I could see that she was worried as I carried on. When I finished telling her what had happened I could see she was angry.

    She then apologized for what had happened. She said no receptionist or doctor is going to tell me what I can or cannot do. I am the senior partner of the practice. ( I did not even know she was the senior partner of the practice)

    She then said she will give me the Ventolin inhaler and put it back on repeat.

    I was in there for half an hour whilst she told me what would happen now.

    An investigation will take place and I will be told that I would get feedback as it progresses.

    She then cancelled my other appointment with the other doctor.

    I said that I had booked this appointment two weeks ago as I am not well.

    She then agreed to see me tomorrow to discuss my health.

    I am so relieved that this has been sorted as I have not eaten for two days because of worrying.

    Once again thank you all for your comments and support and yes we do have to stand up for ourselves and make waves.

  • You've got a good doctor! I'm delighted to hear it worked out OK in the end:-).

  • I knew you had nothing to worry about am really pleased that your own gp has took this as serious as yourself x

  • Thank you so much for your help and support and comforting words xxx

  • We all in need of support at some point, and it's not a problem x

  • That's excellent news - it sounds like your doctor is brilliant - shame about the other one though! But at least it is sorted now.

  • It seems a massive heavyness has been lifted off my shoulders, I can't believe I actually had the guts to stand up for myself.

  • Sometimes you have to:-). I learned that the hard way nearly thirty years ago after I was put on my first steroid inhaler (I'd been on a different inhaler - now discontinued - for many years before that). I was told my asthma was mild (which I wasn't convinced by but didn't have the confidence to challenge) and was put on the lowest dose of Becotide there was. My asthma was never fully controlled after that, but I after being told twice that it was probably down to me not using my inhalers properly I gave up. Big mistake; I ended up in hospital when an infection went really nasty and my asthma went out of control as a result. The strength of my medication was upped as a result of it.

    Having been through that I learnt that sometimes it is in your best interests to query decisions made by doctors if you are convinced they have got it wrong:-).

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