NHS cuts to prescriptions for gluten free food are shortsighted … according to Sarah Sleet, CEO of Coeliac UK. And I agree.
Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust has announced that people suffering from coeliac disease will only be able to get bread and flour on the NHS. This is a cost-cutting move – and as we all know, there are financial issues in the NHS at the moment. Northamptonshire PCT has a £40million deficit in its budget, apparently, but not all the savings will be coming from coeliacs (!)
Food available on prescription at the moment includes bread, flour, pasta, pizza bases, crispbreads and crackers, and a few plain sweet biscuits. Prescriptions aren’t free for most people, although buying a season ticket helps – but of course all these foods are hugely expensive in the shops. Many are five to eight times more expensive than standard products, and for many people, these will simply be too expensive.
Cutting availability of gluten free foods is a mistake because if people with coeliac disease don’t stick to the diet then they will acquire other medical problems and need additional medical help, which does of course cost money. People who comply with the diet usually recover and are just as healthy as other people. Making it more difficult to stick to the diet is short sighted, therefore, because it may lead to more medical expenses further down the road …