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Over £100k providing gluten-free food on prescription

Buckinghamshire's NHS is reviewing its policy on the service.

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:26am 16th October 2019. 3-minute read.

Over £100k providing gluten-free food on prescription

Offering gluten-free food on prescription cost Buckinghamshire's NHS over £100,000 last year.

So they're looking at taking the products off prescription services, as they are readily available in shops now.

Our CCG is looking to bring the prescribing of food items for people with Coeliac disease more in line with other patients that require a special diet.

The NHS does not provide food on prescription for all patients that require a specialist diet including those with food intolerances (lactose, wheat) and food allergies (egg, fish, shellfish, peanut, sesame, soya and tree nut). Therefore it is looking to stop prescribing gluten free foods.

In 2018 the cost of the NHS providing gluten free food on prescription to people in Bucks was £111,000. 

Around 350 patients in Bucks currently get gluten free foods on prescription. However, gluten free foods are far more easily available on the high street than when the prescription guidelines were originally developed. 

NHS logo sign
The NHS in Bucks spent £111,000 in 2018 on the service

Dr Shona Lockie, Clinical Director for the Medicines Management Team, said:

"The time is right to review gluten free prescribing. There are a lot more options available to people now - so it seems sensible to take a fresh look at our current guidance.

"Everyone knows the NHS has a limited amount of money to meet people's health needs so we are looking to reduce costs, without reducing people's access to the foods they need to stay healthy.

"There are lots of cheap, naturally gluten free carbohydrate food alternatives available. These include rice, potatoes, lentils - as well as lots of flour alternatives such as rice flour, millet and corn flour." 

Meaning that a healthy diet can be achieved without the need for gluten free flour replacements.

Dr Lockie continues.

"We accept that some people may still struggle to find affordable gluten free foods from their local shop. For this reason we want to understand who they are and what things we should consider before making any decisions.

"We would like as many people as possible to give us their views, whether they need to use gluten free food or not."

People can give their views through Let's Talk Health Bucks, an online public forum which people can join to give their views on healthcare in Bucks.

There is a survey on the site about gluten free prescribing. Paper copies will also be available in dietician clinic at Stoke Mandeville and Amersham Hospitals.

The consultation is open for eight weeks from 16 October to 10 December 2019.

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