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NHS event – new services for people who attend A&E in west Kent – public meeting in Tunbridge Wells on 19 September

Routine prescriptions for gluten-free food in west Kent to stop from 1 September 2017

User AvatarPosted by Amanda Crawford at 02/08/2017 14:50:40

From 1 September 2017, gluten-free food will no longer be routinely prescribed for people with coeliac disease in west Kent.

This follows a decision taken by NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at its Governing Body meeting on 25 July to continue NHS funding for gluten-free products only for people with Phenylketonuria (PKU) who need specific low protein food.

Dr Bob Bowes, chair of the CCG, said: “I know this will be disappointing to many people with coeliac disease in west Kent and I would like to assure them that ending prescribing of gluten-free food is not a decision we took lightly. When making our decision, we considered whether the money spent on gluten-free prescriptions can be spent on other services without having a significant impact on the health of those affected, and took into account people’s views gathered through consultation.

“We were also very aware that it is our statutory duty to do the best we can for the whole of our population with the money we have available.

“We decided that, given our financial position, we can no longer continue routinely to fund gluten-free products on prescription for people with coeliac disease and other gluten-sensitive illnesses.”

An assessment carried out by the CCG showed that the top users of NHS prescriptions for gluten-free foods are the ten per cent most affluent members of the population with coeliac disease. The ten per cent least affluent get the fewest prescriptions.

About one per cent of the population of the UK has coeliac disease. This works out at about 4,600 people in west Kent. Of the total number with coeliac disease, it is estimated that about a quarter have a clinical diagnosis. This indicates that about 1,150 people may currently be eligible for gluten-free food on prescription in west Kent.

The gluten-free items currently available on prescription in west Kent are fresh and long-life bread, flour mix, plain savoury crackers, pasta and pure oats breakfast cereal.

Between January 2016 and December 2016, 10,026 gluten-free prescription items were prescribed by the 61 GP practices in west Kent at a total cost of £137,343.