GP told to foot bill for Viagra

A FAMILY doctor who prescribed Viagra to a patient on the NHS has been told by his health authority to pay the full cost - or have it deducted from his pay.

Dr Peter Simmons, a GP at the Vine House Health Centre in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, has been told by West Hertfordshire health authority that the cost of two NHS prescriptions he wrote for a patient last October and November will be deducted from his pay.

The threat emerged the day after the British Medical Association defied the Government by urging GPs to prescribe the drug on the NHS to any patients who needed it. The BMA rejected proposed guidelines from Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, which would limit Viagra, on the NHS, to a small group of severely disabled men.

Dr Jonathan Reggler, a GP in Buckinghamshire, wrote an NHS prescription for a patient yesterday, complaining that the Government's proposed guidelines were "unworkable". He said thousands more GPs would be joining the Viagra rebellion, adding: "I think the BMA advice is spot-on and I am going to follow them rather than Frank Dobson."

However, the Government received backing from the Royal College of Physicians as a split emerged in the medical establishment's view.

Professor George Alberti, president, said rationing was inevitable in a cash-limited system and the guidelines reflected that. In a clear criticism of the BMA's stance, he said: "Those promoting Viagra for all should ask themselves what services should be withdrawn and which patients should not be treated in order to pay for it."

At least two GPs are known to have been threatened by West Hertfordshire health authority for prescribing Viagra on the NHS. Dr Simmons said he agreed to issue an NHS prescription after his patient paid for one pill privately and found that it worked. He said: "He had seen specialists and tried all the other treatments and although they worked at first they had ceased to be effective."

Dr Simmons issued two NHS prescriptions for four tablets each to the man between October and November last year. On Christmas Eve he received a letter from the health authority telling him that the cost of the drugs, plus the chemist's dispensing cost, would be deducted from his income - a total of about pounds 50.

"Not only was I within my rights to prescribe but, if there is a clinical need, I am obliged by my terms of service to do so," Dr Simmons said.

Viagra was licensed in the UK last September and the Government issued advice to GPs not to prescribe it on the NHS, other than in "exceptional circumstances," pending official guidelines which were published on Thursday. These propose that NHS prescriptions be restricted to a small group with severe disabilities, estimated at 15 per cent of all suffering from impotence.

Dr Simmons has sought legal advice from his defence body, the Medical Protection Society. He said the Government's "advice" did not amount to a ban, and in the absence of a ban the advice was overridden by his duty to prescribe to any patient with a clinical need.

"Viagra is cheaper than the other treatments for impotence and to prescribe it for this man seemed cost-effective and clinically reasonable. I discussed it with my partners and they agreed," said Dr Simmons.

Pfizer, the manufacturer, said West Hertfordshire was the only health authority it knew of to have issued such threats.

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
News
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements