Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

News

Have your say on the provision of gluten-free foods and over the counter medicines on prescription

06 October 2017


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Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (LCCG) is asking for patient and public views as they consider whether to cease to fund the prescription of all gluten-free foods and medicines that can be bought over the counter to treat minor illnesses.

The proposed changes to prescribing in Luton could make important savings which can be reinvested into other health services locally.

Estimates suggest that by stopping the provision of gluten free food on prescription could save over £80,000 a year for the health service and stopping the provision of over the counter medicines (for short term, minor illnesses) could save around £1.2 million annually. 

Evidence has also shown that the NHS pays much more for the same gluten-free foods and over the counter medicines, such as paracetamol, than a consumer would if they bought the product at a local supermarket. The NHS also pays additional fees in handling charges.

A 90 day public consultation to give everyone the chance of having their say on the proposals commences on 25 September and closes in 24 December.

Dr Nina Pearson, Chairman of Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, said: “Currently, staple gluten-free foods such as bread, flour and pasta are available on prescription to patients diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. Gluten-free foods have been given on prescription to these patients since the late 1960s when it was less easy to buy them. These days, a wide range of gluten-free foods are sold in many supermarkets and there are naturally gluten free foods available such as potatoes and rice. Medicines such as coughs and colds remedies, antihistamines or some skin creams are also widely available over the counter to treat minor illnesses, meaning that people can treat themselves at home rather than going to their GP for a prescription. 

“We are currently making some difficult decisions abouthow to spend the available budget in ways that most benefit the health of Luton’s population as a whole, while ensuring we get the best possible value for money. Changing the way we prescribe gluten-free food and over the counter medicines could save the LCCG thousands of pounds a year, freeing up more funding to be reinvested, and we would like to encourage everyone take part in the consultation and give us their feedback.”

For more details or to take part in the consultation visit ‘Consultation and Engagement’ section that can be found under the ‘Patient and public voice’ tab at www.lutonccg.nhs.uk 

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