About the project

Our erectile dysfunction (ED) project aims to address the inequality and inequity of ED service provision across the UK and standardise the ED treatment and support services that are available so that all men get access to the best ED treatment and support after prostate cancer treatment regardless of where they live in the UK.

Why we're doing it

One of the main barriers that prevent men accessing appropriate treatment and support for ED is the current prescribing guidance. The current guidance on impotence prescribing - called the Health Services Circular on Impotence (HSC 1999/148) - was produced in 1999, and fails to provide current best practice for treating men with prostate cancer treatment induced erectile dysfunction (ED) and has only received piecemeal updates such as one last year which removed generic Viagra from the guidance and opened it up for wider NHS prescribing.

Prostate Cancer UK's FOI request data highlights areas where commissioners provide a good choice of ED services and areas that provide little or no ED service, resulting in a 'post code lottery' of ED service provision across the UK. In order to empower men to demand ED services from their health care providers, men need to be informed as to what ED services are available and what service provision is available from their local commissioners and NHS Trusts. This combined with the fact that often men and health care professionals can often find erectile dysfunction a difficult issue to approach.

What we're doing

Our Change Delivery team are leading our work to address these issues in variation and inequality of ED services across the UK. Our aim is for all prostate cancer patients to receive standardised, up to date ED care and support that provides them with the choice of ED support and services they need to return them to their pre-treatment baseline function regardless of where they live in the UK.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • Asked men and those affected by prostate cancer to lobby their own local health board – nearly 600 people took taken action and sent a letter to either their local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or the Health Secretary, calling for change
  • Contacted NHS Trusts in the worst performing areas to understand what the barriers are to providing good provision of ED services to meet the needs of prostate cancer patients.
  • Written to all the Cancer Alliances and Cancer Vanguards in England, highlighting the difference in services across CCGs in their area, demanding that they address the current inequalities
  • Written to Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary requesting a named person who is responsible for updating the National Commissioning Guidelines, which are nearly 18 years old
  • Developed an education programme for healthcare professionals to highlight the impact that ED has on an individual and the importance of ED provision after prostate cancer treatment

However, there is still work to be done for all men to receive support for erectile dysfunction and we will continue to push for the inequality of services to be addressed.

We will continue:

  • Working with Cancer Alliances and Cancer Vanguards in Englandfor all men to have access to the following 5 ED services/support: PDE5-i (Daily low Cialis), Vacuum Erection Devices, Erectile Dysfunction Clinics, Psychosexual Services and Counselling.
  • Working across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to have access to PDE5-i (Daily low Cialis), Vacuum Erection Devices, Erectile Dysfunction Clinics, Psychosexual Services and Counselling.
  • Working to get the National Commissioning Guidelines updated

How you can help

There are a number of ways you can get involved with our ED project and help improve care for men in your area. You could:

  • Download our ED guidelines
  • Sign up to our online learning portal for Health Professionals and take our free online courses - Management of Erectile Dysfunction and Lets talk about Sex, Relationships and Prostate Cancer
  • Attend a Primary Care Masterclass in your area and stay up to date with the latest best practice in primary care for prostate cancer


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