Healthwatch Derbyshire feels that it is vital to monitor the impact on patients of the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) decision to no longer routinely commission the prescribing of gluten-free foods.
With the NHS under huge financial pressure and the range and price of gluten-free products available in supermarkets improving dramatically, a review of what is prescribed by the NHS has taken place to ensure resources are used in the best and fairest way possible.
A recently released report from the Department of Health and Social Care included the Health Minister’s preferred option to restrict prescribing to certain gluten-free products. Many areas have opted to continue to prescribe staples such as bread and flour, however, it is to be noted that it is for individual CCGs to decide how they commission local services to best meet the needs of their populations.
In Derbyshire we have found people are particularly concerned about a disproportionate impact of the removal of gluten-free prescriptions for people on low incomes. As gluten-free items such as bread and flour are more expensive than their counterparts there is concern that it may affect the ability of patients with coeliac disease to stick to a gluten-free diet.
Concerns have also been expressed by those that live in rural areas who may not have access to supermarkets that stock a range of gluten-free alternatives. The smaller stores that people in rural areas may shop at often do not stock staple gluten-free foods.
If you are concerned that this policy change is having an impact on your ability to manage your gluten-free diet and your coeliac disease, you should see your GP for advice as the final decision about what to prescribe lies with your GP.
We also encourage people to get in touch with Healthwatch Derbyshire in order for us to be able to monitor the impact of these changes on patients. Any feedback we receive we be collated and fed through to those responsible for commissioning the service in order to highlight the impact of the changes on patients.
There are several ways that you can contact Healthwatch Derbyshire:
Via the website
By email: email@example.com
Telephone: 01773 880786
Post: Healthwatch Derbyshire, Suite 14, Riverside Business Centre, Foundry Lane, Milford, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 0RN
For additional information and support, Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, provides excellent support and advice on following a gluten-free diet.
They offer a wide range of materials and support to help you effectively and affordably manage a gluten-free diet, including a Food and Drink Directory which lists thousands of gluten-free products available in shops. Coeliac UK can be contacted on 0333 332 2033 or via www.coeliac.org.uk.