South Yorkshire health authorities spent more than £400,000 on gluten free food
Health authorities across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw spent more than £400,000 on prescribing gluten free food in the past year, but could have saved up to £290,000 by changing their policy.
There are around 1,400 adults who request prescriptions for gluten free bread and mixes in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, around 0.11 percent of the population – a figure authorities say has reduced significantly in recent years.
People who have coeliac disease cannot eat gluten as it inflames their small intestine which makes it difficult to digest food and can cause severe symptoms.
Gluten free products have been available to patients diagnosed with coeliac disease since the 1960s, when the availability of gluten free food was very limited. Now authorities are planning to cut down on prescriptions as there are more gluten free products on the market for patients.
Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Bassetlaw and Doncaster all have different restrictions on the gluten free prescriptions they give out.
Idris Griffiths, chief officer of Bassetlaw CCG and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw lead for medicines management, said they could have spent 72 percent less if this was standardised across the region.
He said: “Any change in policy is likely to have no, or very little, impact on 99.9% of the population. However, the impact on some of the 0.1%, particularly those living in poverty, could be significant depending on the outcome of any engagement and if any future policy recommended further removal of access to gluten free prescriptions.”
He suggested the councils undergo a joint consultation on the plans to standardise all policies and added: “It is proposed that the pre-consultation is a targeted exercise using focus groups to ensure a cross-section of views are captured. Those who could be affected by any potential changes will be targeted as will those for whom the current prescribing recommendations could be deemed inequitable.”
The report will be discussed at a joint health overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, November 7 from 1pm.