Gluten-free food prescriptions axed in Telford and Wrekin
Prescriptions for gluten-free food will be withdrawn in Telford and Wrekin in a move which will save health commissioners £50,000 a year.
Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group has been engaging with people over the proposals this year.
Its governance board rubber-stamped the plans at a recent meeting.
Staple gluten-free foods have been available on prescription to patients diagnosed with gluten sensitive enteropathies since the late 1960s, when the availability of gluten-free foods was limited.
But Telford & Wrekin CCG says that gluten-free foods are now widely available to buy.
Back in 2011, Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust (PCT) took the decision to restrict the range of staple gluten-free foods that were available on prescription.
The PCT allowed a limited range and restricted quantities of breads, flours and pastas to be prescribed at NHS expense.
The policy was adopted by the CCG in 2013.
During 2017 there was a national consultation on the availability of gluten-free foods on prescription in primary care.
It concluded that gluten-free prescribing should be restricted to bread and flour mixes only.
These restrictions will be imposed across the whole NHS later this year.
Many CCGs, like Telford and Wrekin, restricted the type and quantity of gluten-free foods available on prescription prior to the national consultation and a growing number of CCGs have stopped gluten-free prescribing altogether, including Shropshire CCG.
A report to the CCG board by Jacqui Seaton, head of medicines management, said: "If the CCG stopped all prescribing of gluten free foods on NHS prescriptions for people diagnosed with gluten sensitive enteropathies, the CCG would realise around £50,000 per annum which could be invested in priority areas.
"The CCG is facing a significant financial challenge and disinvestment in areas of low priority is necessary to enable the CCG to achieve its statutory responsibility of financial balance at the end of the financial year.
"It is unlikely that the national decision to restrict gluten free prescribing to bread and flour mixes only will release further savings for the CCG and therefore the proposal to fully disinvest in all gluten free prescribing at NHS expense was pursued."
Prescriptions for gluten-free food were withdrawn in Shropshire last year.
Gluten-free foods are prescribed to people diagnosed with gluten sensitive enteropathies or, as it is more commonly called, coeliac disease.
When someone has coeliac disease their small intestine becomes inflamed if they eat food containing gluten, making it difficult for them to digest food and nutrients.
Gluten can be found in foods that contain wheat, barley and rye, such as bread, pasta, cakes and some breakfast cereals.