Nutritional drinks on prescription

Practical issues

Share experiences and advice on practical issues when living with cancer, such as money, work, benefits, travel insurance, transport, food and drink, organising support at home, or getting specialist equipment.

Nutritional drinks on prescription

No. of entries: 16 | Posted on 09 Apr 2011 10:47
  • Hi

    I'm new to the forum and I'm just after anyones experience of GPs prescibing Ensure drinks to cancer patients.

    My nan (who is 77) had bladder cancer 4 years ago and had radical surgery to remove her bladder and surrounding reproductive organs. The operation inititally seemed to have been a success but last year she was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer that had gone to her lungs...

    She had some radiotherapy last year but has been told that the cancer is terminal.

    Day to day she has been doing OK (considering) but has been being prescribed Ensure drinks for the last six months to supplement her diet as her appetite is quite poor.

    This week the doctor has said she can no longer prescribe the drinks (due to budget cuts) and my Nan will have to buy them from the chemists at a cost of nearly £3 each! As she has at least 1 a day this is a cost of at least £90 a month straight away.

    My Nan is quite upset about this and plans to speak to the doctor again next week (as she feels the drinks really help her), and I have just done some research online for her (including on this site) and it appears normal to encourage patients with a dwindling appetite to have the drinks to increase their nutritional intake and everything I have foundsays that they should be precribed if they are needed as they are so expensive - so i'm a bit lost as to why the GP has said they can no longer be prescribed.

    Has anyone else had this problem?


    Nat x


  • Hi Nat

    We had the same problem with my dads GP who told me 'he couldn't possibly supply Ensure as it wasn't in his policies and guidelines!!!' I spoke to the district nurse and then his oncologist who was the one who prescribed them, he was furious! After several heated discussions with the GP he eventually did a prescription, when families are under pressure with the dreaded C you do not need to be fighting GP's! When I then went to Boots to pick it upm the pharmacist told me that they have several patients who they deliver hundreds to each month and a huge amount get wasted as they don't like all the flavours!!

    Go over your GP's head if necessary, they are all too worried about money and have lost sight of the real job they are paid to do!!

    Good luck


  • Cant understand why G.P will not prescribe. If  your mum ends up in hospital due to poor nutrion the cost of care wil be much higher. If she has a mac nurse get them involved they can put pressure on G.P.

    My mum could not eat solids so lived on build up drinks  I know her case may differ because the radioth caused the problem. She did however get them prescribed as well as peg feed supplied. If you have more than one G.P in your practice see another they will probably prescribe..


  • Hi

    You and your nan should not be placed in this predicament.  My partner was prescribed fortis sip supplements when he was having treatment. Does your nan have a Macmillan nurse if so get them to fight for you.  We had a referral to a  district nurse when he was needing help managing his sickness after chemo and they were great--so does your nan have a district nurse.  I found that it is hard work and you have to be persistent but in the end you find the right person to help you and it all falls into place.  So don't give up .

  • It is awful really how some GPS think..


    If it helps I did do some calculations last week as I was trying to think of ways to build up my dad until the doctor actually mentioned the ensure drinks you mentioned a couple days ago.

    Slimfast ( yes I know seems weird but it is a meal replacement) make up with full fat milk works out to be the same calories as Ensure.  You can also add some evaporated milk to increase it even more.

    Sainsbury are doing the tins for £2.98 just now and you have to add the milk but it makes 12 drinks.   I know it is not what you want to do but I thought I would offer this as an option as I was doing it myself last week.


    All the best x


  • Hi all,

    My hubby needs 'fortisip' for recovery, vanilla flavoured as that is the only one he likes! The GP won't prescribe but will supply an alternative which he doesnt want. However, he is very lucky to be at The Marsden, Sutton and they will prescribe it whenever he needs it. I would suggest you all try your hospitals... though I realise The Marsden is special. Why is it all about money??

  • Hi Nat,

    we are also on the drinks you mentioned, as you say they have great whilst we go through chemotherapy to help support appetite. Our GP has been great , so have no problems, don't understand why your GP is saying this, definitely worth fighting it , suggest you get your macmillan nurse involved.




  • Hi,


    We have 7 of the Ensure drinks in the fridge , we only got them 2 weeks ago so if anyone wants them I would happily post them.  If I hand them back in to the chemist they will go in the bin sadly.


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