Decision on future prescribing of gluten-free food in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven

Published on 05/09/2017 at 06:11pm

NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recommended that GPs no longer prescribe gluten-free products.

This decision was reached following a public consultation on prescribing gluten-free food, which took place earlier this year. The CCGs’ Clinical Executive Group (CEG) has made the decision to stop providing gluten-free (GF) food on prescription for patients of all ages from September 2017.

During the consultation over 600 responses were received from a wide range of people, including many living with coeliac disease. This feedback, together with clinical evidence and financial information, was considered carefully by the CEG.

For more than 30 years, the NHS has prescribed gluten-free foods like bread, flour, cereal and pasta for people with coeliac disease. This policy was created at a time when gluten-free foods were not as readily available as they are today. In recent years, the range of gluten-free products has increased dramatically, with most supermarkets now stocking a wide range of these items.

However, the NHS is still spending £25m a year to provide gluten-free products on prescription. In Airedale, the total annual spend is over £100,000. With an increasing demand for services, the NHS must look at all the products and services and make decisions about what services to expand and what to reduce.

Dr Colin Renwick, Executive GP and Prescribing Lead at NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, said: “We would like to thank people for taking part in the consultation and giving such excellent feedback. This has been a hard decision that we have certainly not taken lightly; we know this will affect many people with coeliac disease who have received gluten-free food on prescription for a long time.

“However, the NHS is still spending £25m a year to provide gluten-free products on prescription. In Airedale, the total annual spend is over £100,000. With an increasing demand for services, the NHS must look at prioritising where it spends the available resources to maximise the benefits for the whole population.”

To help patients in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, the charity Coeliac UK publishes an annual list of naturally gluten-free foods – rice, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, and more – which can be included in a regular grocery shop. More information about the 2017 directory can be found on the Coeliac UK website.

The CCG reviewed the gluten-free policy as part of an overall NHS programme known as QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – which is all about making sure that each pound spent brings maximum benefit and quality of care to patients.

 

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