"Prescription Decision"

About: Greater Manchester Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I suffer from extreme anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Since moving surgery 3 months ago I have been refused Diazepam, a medication that I have taken at variable intervals for over 10 years. It has been the only consistently effective medication to relieve my symptoms which have increased exponentially since starting at this surgery. I suffer from recurrent suicidal feelings and diazepam has saved me on several occasions from ending my life. Beta-blockers, promazine and a daily antidepressant Duloxetine have been tried and found completely ineffective. Tension headaches more than 75% of days and I have gone from being able to work to being completely disabled by this now unmanageable illness.

I am seeking some clarification on my legal rights concerning this refusal and where I might appeal/complain about it. So profoundly unbearable is my life at present that I don't feel a prescription for 5 x 5 mg diazepam tablets monthly is a lot to ask for, or sufficient to lead to addiction. Where is the line between a medication being effective and addictive? If the only effective medication is addictive how much does a patient have to suffer before a prescription can be sanctioned?

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Response from Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Dear mredtb,

Thanks for getting in touch to let us know how you feel. I appreciate it must be really frustrating to be refused medication that helps you manage your anxiety, depression and panic attacks. I was wondering if you’d spoken to your GP to let them know how you are feeling?

Diazepam can be really effective, but some people develop a tolerance after regular use, so GPs have to put systems in place to make sure they are only used in the short term. If you have a care coordinator, you could discuss this with them so that they could, with your permission, ensure your GP has the relevant history, which underpins the need for the diazepam, including which other drugs have been tried and failed, for a compromise to be reached.

If you don’t have a care coordinator you could contact an advocacy service who could help you to discuss matters with your GP.

Depending on which area you live in advocacy is provided by different organisations:

Mental Health Independent Support Team (MhIST) provides advocacy services for people affected by mental health problems across Bolton. Tel: 01204 527 200

Mind in Salford provides advocacy services for people affected by mental health problems across Salford. Tel: 0161 839 30 30

Trafford Mental Health Advocacy Service (TMHAS) provides advocacy services for people affected by mental health problems across Trafford. Tel: 0161 877 4330.

If you don’t live in any of the areas above, you could contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, who will be able to tell you who provide a local advocacy service where you live

If you try this and things still can’t be resolved, please feel free to contact our Customer Care Team by calling them on (0161) 772 4663 to discuss which further options are available to you.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,