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Gluten-free guidelines – common questions

Earlier this year, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided to limit the range of gluten free products available on prescription. This decision was one of a series aimed at encouraging people to buy items which were routinely available from pharmacies or local supermarkets rather than ask their GP to prescribe them.

Against the background of the growing cost of medicines and a limited budget, the CCG wanted to free up GPs’ time to see patients who really needed their attention and to ensure it had sufficient funds for them to prescribe medicinal products that are not generally available over the counter.

Our decision provoked a spectrum of views. Some people and organisations were unhappy with the decision to limit the options; others thought the approach was reasonable. Some accepted the logic of limiting the choice available on prescription but wanted a different selection. Others questioned whether the NHS should fund items which were not medicinal and arguably not essential.

In the light of feedback received and the ever increasing financial pressures, we consulted with our GPs, and some 70 percent of the 100 plus who responded supported an approach of a complete restriction of gluten free products being applied for patients aged 18 and over, and the prescription of a limited range of gluten free products being available to those aged under 18 only.

As a result and after much consideration, the CCG has decided that from 1 June 2016, only patients aged under 18 should be able to receive a limited range of gluten free products on prescription and patients 18 and over will no longer be able to receive gluten free products on prescription. We have advised GPs accordingly.

We appreciate that for some people, this will be an unpopular decision but in the absence of a commonly supported alternative approach, we believe that enabling under 18s to access the limited list on prescription is the most appropriate way of using our limited resources effectively.

In limiting items available on prescription, we are trying to adopt an approach that will have the most positive overall health impact on the people of South Devon and Torbay.

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