NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has taken the decision to stop the routine prescribing of a range of products, including gluten-free foods.
The CCG has also decided that requests by patients for more expensive brands of medicines will also not be routinely supported where an appropriate/ alternative generic medicine is available. Certain products which are available readily over the counter will also no longer be routinely available on prescription.
These decisions come after careful consideration, taking into account the views expressed by local people, health professionals and other stakeholders during the recent ‘Healthy Wakefield Prescribing Changes’ public engagement, which received over 550 responses.
During the engagement the CCG acknowledged that the proposals for change were driven by a financial challenge and the need to invest the local NHS budget to benefit the health of the whole population and ensure value for money. While we are spending more every year on NHS services, increasing demand, alongside rising costs means we have had to look at using our budget in a different way and make some difficult decisions.
Dr Phil Earnshaw local GP and Chair of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are constantly trying to improve NHS services and as a result, more people are living longer and the population is growing.
"As a result we are also seeing increased demand for services at time when growth in the NHS budget is limited. This means we need to adapt the way we use the public pound to make sure it is used in the most effective way. Decisions like this are difficult, but the money saved for example on gluten-free prescribing will be around £200,000 a year. We promise that this will be spent on important priorities that we are currently struggling to meet.”
Feedback received as part of the consultation indicated that there was general support for many of the proposed changes and an understanding of the challenges facing the NHS locally. However, the CCG recognises that some people will find the decision hard to accept.
The changes for gluten-free products and baby milk will come into effect on the 1st July 2017, whilst the changes to the prescribing of branded products and over-the-counter products will come into effect on the 1st May.
The CCG will continue to work with GPs, third sector organisations and other stakeholders to communicate the changes to patients, address any concerns raised during the consultation process, and support those who may be affected.
The following products will not routinely be available on prescription in Wakefield because they are widely available to purchase without a prescription in local pharmacies and/or supermarkets:
- gluten-free foods
- sunscreens for skin protection from UV radiation
- soya and thickened infant formulas
- infant formula for lactose intolerance
- cream for unwanted facial hair and other products that have a predominantly cosmetic action
- emollient (moisturiser) for minor skin conditions
- camouflage products e.g. for port wine stain birthmarks
- multivitamins, where no specific deficiency has been identified
GPs will still be able to prescribe these products in exceptional circumstances, after consideration of the exceptionality and subsequent approval for funding by the CCG Individual Funding Request Panel.