Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, 2013

Ms B’s son, Mr H (who was 23 at the time of the events complained about), has severe learning disabilities and behavioural problems. He also has epilepsy. Mr H has historically been prescribed a series of medicines that he takes in liquid or dissolvable form because he becomes very distressed if he has to take tablets. One of those medicines is midazolam, which is used in emergencies if his epileptic seizures last beyond three minutes.

Ms B attended the Practice in April 2011 for a repeat prescription of midazolam. However, she said that she was advised that she would need to see Dr L, a GP at the Practice, to discuss her son’s medication. Ms B attended an appointment with Dr L on 3 May and she said that he told her that the Practice would not prescribe midazolam for Mr H because it was too expensive.

Ms B said that Dr L also told her that he would no longer prescribe any of Mr H’s other medicines in liquid form for cost reasons and that he would only prescribe tablets in future. Ms B said that when she questioned Dr L about this, he told her to find a GP ‘who has bigger budgets’ and who would ‘be happy to prescribe the medications’. Ms B said that this decision not to prescribe her son suitable medication put him at risk, including death.

Ms B subsequently complained to the Practice about Dr L’s decision. As a result of this, Dr L wrote to inform her that there had been a ‘total breakdown' in the doctor-patient relationship and advised her to find a new GP within 21 days or he would remove her and Mr H from his list of patients (the Practice’s list). Ms B said that this caused her significant distress and inconvenience.