Funding for free foods for coeliac sufferers in North Yorkshire could be scrapped

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Funding for gluten-free foods for coeliac sufferers could be scrapped in parts of North Yorkshire as health authorities look to save £180,000.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) covering Hambleton, Richmond, Whitby and Harrogate spent £181,882 on gluten-free foods last year for people suffering from the disease.

Now a consultation has been launched to consider scrapping funding for this service to all but the pregnant and the most disadvantaged children.

“Given the current financial challenges facing the NHS, prescribers need to ensure a fair use of resources for all their patients,” said Dr Charles Parker, clinical chair of Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG (HRW) which is consulting on the issue with NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG (HaRD). “We fully appreciate that some patients may feel anxious about our proposals and are therefore ensuring any feedback from the engagement is taken into consideration.”

The total cost of prescribing gluten-free products was £24.5m in England in 2015.

In North Yorkshire, HRW CCG spent £92,786, while HaRD CCG spent £89,096. This included £120,192 on bread, £18,958 on pasta and £4,019 on biscuits.

“Historically, gluten free products have been provided on prescription to patients with coeliac disease as products weren’t as readily available on the high street as they are today,” said Amanda Bloor, chief officer at HaRD CCG.

“The CCG continually reviews where and how it spends our limited budget in order to commission the highest quality local healthcare services for our local population.”

The consultation runs from today, Thursday June 30 until July 21st.