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Kevan Jones MP calls for rethink on NHS gluten-free prescription withdrawal proposals

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Kevan Jones MP is calling for the Government to maintain gluten free foods on prescriptions, following the announcement from Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, that a national review will be conducted looking at 10 prescription items.

In November 2016, Kevan held a Westminster Hall debate to raise awareness of the current situation facing those suffering from coeliac disease and their access to gluten-free food prescriptions. During this debate, the Minister noted that Clinical Commissioning Groups may not be getting it right when it came to cutting gluten-free prescribing, and committed to reviewing the situation, with a focus on ending the current postcode lottery for treatment support.

The annual cost of gluten-free food on prescription to NHS England was £25.7m in 2015. This was just 0.3% of the total prescribing budget of the NHS. Put another way, the cost to the NHS of maintaining gluten-free food prescriptions works out at £194 per patient per year.

Speaking in response to reports Kevan said:

What NHS Clinical Commissioners are proposing is a false economy, because one hospital admission for a complication like osteoporosis, will cost more than the annual cost of prescriptions for an individual who adheres to a gluten-free diet.”

EARLY DAY MOTION

Kevan will tabling an EDM calling on the Government to maintain gluten-free prescriptions:

That this House recognises that people with coeliac disease, for whom the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life, must have access to gluten-free prescriptions to maintain their health; notes that without access to prescriptions, the most vulnerable people, those on low incomes, the elderly and those with mobility problems will suffer most as confirmed by independent research; and considers that the potential health risk to patients, including osteoporosis, infertility, and cancer of the small bowel, may cost the NHS more in the long run; calls for the maintenance of gluten-free prescriptions on the NHS and; further calls for the consideration of a national gluten-free prescribing scheme for England and renewed efforts to improve recognition of coeliac disease by primary care health services.