Bradford CCGs launch public consultation on gluten-free prescribing

The local NHS is asking for people’s help to decide the future of gluten-free food on prescription.

NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are starting a conversation with patients, carers and the wider public about whether gluten-free foods should be provided on prescription. 

For more than 30 years, the NHS has prescribed gluten-free foods like bread, flour, cereal and pasta for people with coeliac disease. This policy was created at a time when gluten-free foods were not as readily available as they are today. In recent years, the range of gluten-free products has increased dramatically, with most supermarkets now stocking a wide range of these items.

However, the NHS is still spending £25m a year to provide gluten-free products on prescription. In Bradford, the total annual spend is around £320,000. With an increasing demand for services, coupled with financial constraints, the NHS must look at all the products and services and make decisions about what services to expand and what to reduce.

As a result, the Bradford CCGs are looking at a range of options, including no longer providing gluten-free foods on a prescription basis.

The CCGs are reviewing the gluten-free policy as part of an overall NHS programme known as QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – which is all about making sure that each pound spent brings maximum benefit and quality of care to patients.

It will improve the quality of care the NHS delivers while making around £13m of efficiency savings in Bradford in 2016/17.The CCGs are looking at guidance about best practice and improvements in patient pathways to make changes that will improve the experience for patients, but also release savings.

Dr Sohail Abbas and Dr Carsten Grimm, the CCGs’ clinical leads for prescribing, said: “Unfortunately in the current economic climate with rising demand on healthcare services, we have to make difficult decisions and it is important that we involve our people and public to support us in this process.

“We understand that a decision to change or stop the prescribing of gluten-free foods will impact on people in different ways; so we are keen to hear the views of patients, carers, the wider public, together with our clinicians, so that we are fully aware of the likely impact of the proposals, before making a final decision.”

This three-month public consultation will run from Monday 4 July to Friday 30 September, and the CCGs would like people to complete a short survey to help them understand what people think about the different options – whether they live with coeliac disease or not.

People can give their views on the proposals in a number of ways:

  • fill in the online survey here,
  • send comments to: Gluten-free consultation, Freepost RTEK-UHKG-UBEK, Douglas Mill, Bowling Old Lane, Bradford, BD5 7JR,
  • email: consultation@bradford.nhs.uk
  • attend drop-in sessions on the following dates:
    • Tuesday 9 August, 3pm to 4.30pm, Windhill Community Centre, Church Street, Shipley, BD18 2NR
    • Tuesday 23 August, 6.30pm to 8pm, at Frizinghall Community Centre, Midland Road, Bradford, BD9 4HX
    • Wednesday 7 September, 3pm to 4.30pm, at Park Lane Centre, Bradford, BD5 0LN

The deadline for responses is 30 September 2016.