Have your say on gluten-free and over-the-counter prescribing

Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (BaNES CCG) is launching a period of public engagement on proposed changes to its prescribing policy.

The CCG, like other NHS organisations, must review every service it commissions to ensure NHS funds are being used appropriately and shared equitably across the whole local population. Bath and North East Somerset, in common with other parts of the UK, has a growing and ageing population which is causing a significant increase in demand for all types of local health and care services.  This means that health and care budgets are being stretched further.

The CCG has been reviewing treatments that are shown to be less clinically effective, provide insufficient health benefits and those that do not represent good value for money. As a result, there are two proposed changes to the local prescribing policy:

  • To stop prescriptions of gluten-free products for people with coeliac disease. The NHS has been prescribing gluten-free food for over 30 years but does not provide food on prescription for other groups of patients living with other conditions associated with, or affected by, the type of food they eat.  Also, there is now a much wider range of reasonably priced gluten-free alternatives available in supermarkets.
  • To stop prescriptions for two groups of over-the-counter medicines – painkillers and antihistamines – when they are used for short-term, minor ailments such as mild hayfever, headache, coughs and colds. Paracetamol and other painkillers cost around 1p per tablet in supermarkets and chemists compared to 3p per tablet on the NHS.  In addition, a significant proportion of GP appointments, GP practice and community pharmacy time is taken up in processing prescriptions for minor ailments which can be managed by patients or their carers without the need for prescription medicines.

Dr Ruth Grabham, local GP and Medical Director at the CCG said: “Last year the CCG spent nearly £500k on painkillers and antihistamines and £112K on gluten-free products.  We believe this money should be used to commission other services which would be of greater benefit for more patients.

“We appreciate that not everyone will support these proposals. However they will not impact on the quality of clinical care patients receive.  We need to make best use of our limited resources and this includes asking people to take as much responsibility for their health as they can.”

A four week period of engagement on the proposals launches on 24 November.

To share your views, complete the surveys using the following links:

Alternatively, email banes.comms@nhs.net with your comments or call 01225 831 853 to request the surveys be sent to you.