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Refused Salbutamol



I have had quite bad asthma since being a toddler and also have life threatening allergies for which I carry an epi pen.

My current medication for asthma is seretide and salbutamol. I have regularly attended hospital to be placed on a nebuliser and courses of steroid tablets.

Last year my GP practice kept refusing my repeat prescriptions for salbutamol and to cut a long story short I ended up having a heated discussion with the practice manager. Since then I've been limited to one prescription a month (I get 2 salbutamol per prescription). That's been fine until I'm down to my last inhaler and I'm unable to order another until the calender month has finished or I lose an inhaler.

Last week I ordered my repeat prescription (the last was at the end of April) I was then told I needed to see the asthma nurse before another would be prescribed. I then saw the nurse AGAIN! But when I went to collect the inhalers from the chemist I was told the script hadn't been sent. Back to the surgery I go and have to see another asthma nurse later in the day (I physically have no inhalers at this point and had been up all night the previous night with a mild attack) I explained everything to the nurse who remembered me from a previous visit and she couldn't understand the issue. She prescribed the salbutamol and away I went.

When I got to the chemist the prescription was for just one inhaler rather than the standard 2 I have had since childhood. Back to the surgery yet again and I'm informed that I'm now only allowed one at a time.

My asthma is always worse in summer and even neighbours cutting their grass triggers an attack to the point where I've had an ambulance blue light me to hospital. I have allergies to so many different foods and I also have panic attacks which feel like asthma attacks so i use my inhaler (rightly or wrongly).

I'm really stressed about the whole situation because I don't think having life saving medication when I need it is unreasonable. I've told the surgery that I need it and also said if they don't prescribe it i will have to keep visiting A&E - wasting way more NHS money than necessary.

I pay for my prescriptions so I'm not going to waste money paying for things I don't need.

I'm after a bit of advice really as to where to go from here. I'm thinking I should submit a formal complaint but will it be taken as seriously as it should be. I'm not being melodramatic when I say that if they are doing this to other patients too they'll have a death on their hands soon.

13 Replies

I am not medically qualified. I remember this topic about the refusal of medical practices to supply salbutamol has been aired recently. It was something about new research on actual situations which showed heavy doses of salbutamol could do more harm than good. I will do some checking when I'm next at my PC in about five hours.

However it does appear to me that your asthma is not controlled by your preventer inhaler, Seretide. You should not need to take high doses of salbutamol if the preventer inhaler is doing its job properly.


I’m shocked reading that and so sorry for the misery they are putting you through .. I can order extra online if I need more ... my surgery are really good I get seen within the hr usually if it’s asthma related. Can you swap surgery’s and think about a prepayment prescription cert it’s only £10 a month ... I have 3 spare if you want I’ll post you one


Pandapiglet in reply to Cb28

That's very kind of you but I'll be ok 😊

Hi there. I too have had this experience. It was only when I pointed out that it was a life saver that they prescribed it. I think the problem is possibly that some health employees are interpreting reliever as a total no go area. I also suspect that some receptionists are making decisions that they shouldn't be doing. Try and get another Dr. at same practice, or move to another practice where they understand asthma, to try more preventive treatments. I have had asthma for as long as I can remember and I don't think health professionals always understand how disruptive and dangerous it can be to start messing around with your medication without in depth discussions first. It has taken approx 30 years to find a regime and medication that work for me. I take Qvar and Serevent AND have reliever handy just in case. I also take Montelucast which works for me, but I realise it dosn't work for everyone. I wish you luck with your quest and don't be afraid to ask questions and don't be pushed into anything you don't feel comfortable with.

Hi Pandapiglet, further to my comment this morning, the refusal of some doctors to prescribe more than 12 salbutomol inhalers per year is a recurring theme on Health Unlocked. The refusal appears to be based on the results of the first national investigation of asthma deaths in the UK and the largest study worldwide up to its publication. The study can be read and/or downloaded at, this is a reference to the study and a brief summary of the outcomes reported by the Royal College of Physicians. The outcomes of the study guard against over-prescribing short-term relievers which it says can be a sign that the preventers are not treating the causes of asthma, making the patient more susceptible to other triggers. We are all different. if I was in your situation i would seek an asthma review. I carry my salbutomol inhaler with me at all times. I use it more than the recommended 3 times a week, but one inhaler usually lasts me 2-4 months. I've had 2 major asthma attacks since I was diagnosed with asthma in 1974 (aged 29). One was in October 1983 when I was in hospital; for 12 days; the other in January 2018 when I was in hospital for 2 days. The latter attack was an allergic reaction to a beta blocker I had been prescribed by a well-meaning hospital doctor when I was having my appendix out last year. (I have permanent atrial fibrillation.)

I've had many smaller attacks and am usually put on courses of antibiotics and prednisolone (steroid) tablets

Pandapiglet in reply to Thomas45

Thank you for your well researched reply.

Sadly I have had several hospital admissions in my 34 years. I've also had 3 asthma reviews at my surgery already this year 😯

Hello ,

I’m sorry you have had this problem . I think you need to contact asthma uk for advice. If there is a good reason why you can’t have 2 , the practice needs to tell you. It sounds like you need a Hospital reviews. If you need to swap to different inhalers, the consultant of nurse specialists will advise you. They will then inform your gp of your new plan. Hope this helps.

Thanks for all your replies.

I was up again last night with asthma attacks. Salbutamol would relieve them and then 20 minutes or so later I was having another attack.

My husband made me attend urgent care this morning and the doctor there diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics and pred tablets.

He also wrote down the name of an anti histamine that is injected and lasts for 3 months, which he feels would certainly help with the numerous allergies I have.

He also prescribed me with salbutamol after I briefly explained the situation as he said it was ridiculous.

Cb28 in reply to Pandapiglet

Good at last I’m glad someone is listening to you ... but the reassurance of having extra salbutamol in your cupboard must feel like a life saver. I’ll send me email address then you can send your home address and I’ll post you some .. honest I don’t mind at all


Pandapiglet in reply to Cb28

Hi might need them though if this ever happens to you. My advice at the minute is to definately stock pile what you can 😂

Glad it's sorted! My surgery has just changed over to carefully prescribing to dosage, so that you can only have so many of an item (and providing a date when you can order next), rather than being able to do a repeat prescription as and when necessary. I thought this was at the root of your problem initially. Anyway, this means I have only one Fostair inhaler at the moment - I do not manage my asthma like that! I have two preventatives inhalers on the go at one time - one in my bedside drawer and one in my bag (should I forget to take it in the morning and find myself out, or get stranded overnight somewhere, whatever, I lose the bedside one, and so on). Am seeing the nurse on Wednesday and no doubt we'll have a very interesting discussion about this ...

I've only just realised that my blue inhaler is 100mcg. I'm almost certain it used to be 200mcg. Have I made this up or is there a 200mcg inhaler. I've had salbutamol and ventolin over the years depending on the surgery.

LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Pandapiglet

I often get this switched round. 100mcg per dose, 200 doses per inhaler. I checked on the medicines site and there is only a 100mcg dose listed for this type of inhaler that I can see.

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