A consultation launched across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen is asking for views on proposals to stop gluten-free foods being prescribed on the NHS.
NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are following over 80 other CCGs across the country including Blackpool CCG and Fylde & Wyre CCG, who have already adopted a no-prescribing policy for gluten-free foods.
Potatoes, rice and corn are naturally gluten-free and other gluten-free products are now widely available in supermarkets, restaurants and shops, and people with coeliac disease can now follow a gluten-free diet without needing specially prescribed foods. It costs considerably more for the NHS to supply gluten-free products on prescription than to buy them from a supermarket or on-line.
The NHS has a public duty to ensure they spend their monies appropriately to ensure best value. Currently, across Pennine Lancashire (East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen), there is around £315,000 spent every year on prescribing certain gluten-free products such as bread and flour. Such resources could be invested in other NHS services for patients.
Funding gluten-free foods is unfair to many other people who have special dietary needs, such as those with lactose intolerance or diabetes, as they are not able to access food on prescription.
Dr Mark Dziobon, Clinical Director for Perfomance, at NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “When gluten-free staple items such as bread and flour were first made available on prescription in the late 1960s, there was limited access to these foods other than via the National Health Service. With increasing awareness, self-care information, and availability of gluten-free food in shops and supermarkets, and with the pressure on NHS budgets, where we are having to prioritise funding on medically necessary services, it is right to question whether the current arrangements for supplying gluten free products on prescription is the right thing to do.
“The purpose of this consultation is to listen to peoples’ views and then hopefully chart a path that leads us to the right decision.”
The CCGs are inviting local patients, clinicians and stakeholders to tell them their views on their proposal to stop prescribing gluten-free foods by completing a short questionnaire. The responses of which will be used to produce a report to help inform the CCGs’ final decision.
Dr John Randall, Clinical Lead at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “We have to use our prescribing budget in the most effective and fair way to improve the health of all of our population.”
The consultation questionnaire is available at:
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/gfconsultation and is open until the 11th November 2016. More information about this consultation can be found here. Alternatively, you can contact the CCGs on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01282 644627 or if you would like the consultation document in another format.