Remember all the brouhaha over prescriptions in Northamptonshire a while ago?

pharmacyThe Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust has now come up with a great new scheme to help coeliacs get gluten free prescriptions directly from the pharmacist rather than via the GP.

When coeliac patients ask for a repeat prescription, they will get a referral letter which should be handed to their local pharmacy in order to register for the new service. Once registered, patients will then select with the pharmacist their gluten-free products using local guidelines approved by the Coeliac Society.

The previous difficulty was a cost-cutting measure; it’s not clear how this new scheme helps cut costs, but it ought to reduce the workload on doctors a bit, and possibly give coeliacs a little more choice over what is prescribed. For example, if Juvela are having a problem supplying enough bread this month, then the pharmacist might know this, and suggest requesting Glutafin instead, rather than having to request a revised prescription – or go without.

How flexible the new system will be will depend on the pharmacist now, who will become the new gatekeeper to gluten free prescribable goods.

At the moment, I take the paper repeat prescription request to the pharmacist, who takes it to the doctor, collects it some days later when the doctor has issued a new prescription, and then orders the goods. (This is an improvement on the old scheme, where I had to take the request to the doctor, wait 2 or 3 days to collect it and then take it to the pharmacist, who would order the goods). When the gluten free bread/flour/whatever has arrived, the pharmacist calls me. I then go to the pharmacist again, to collect the goods. The middle steps will disappear, and therefore the whole process should be quicker, too. After all, it’s only food – it doesn’t need input from a doctor every time.

It will be very interesting to see how this pans out. I’d go for it!

For more, see the Northamptonshire Chronicle and Echo