Letter: Ban on Viagra

Sir: I find it difficult to understand on what basis Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, has banned the use of Viagra on the NHS. Many treatments (probably the majority) within the Health Service are not life-saving or for serious illness but instead are for the improvement of the patient's quality of life. Many of these treatments, like Viagra, are not cheap.

If the NHS and Department of Health have decided to limit effective and available treatments, presumably on financial grounds, then this issue should be the subject of debate within Parliament, the medical profession and the public at large. I believe this to be the first time in the history of the NHS that a Health Secretary has acted in such a totalitarian manner.

This issue has left the medical profession, specialists and GPs alike, in an untenable position. Never before have deserving patients been asked to have an NHS consultation but then been told that for the best treatment in their case they will have to pay per tablet. The belief that doctors may prescribe Viagra as a recreational drug is totally ridiculous. Do we write prescriptions for heroin just because the patient asks for it?

The Government saw this issue coming but chose to ignore it. It is the medical profession and patients that will suffer from their inept and tardy attitude.

RICHARD PEARCY FRCS

Bristol

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