FOLLOWING an 18-month trial the Gluten-Free Food Service is being rolled out across Scotland. Eligible patients can register with a community pharmacy of their choice from where they can collect their repeat prescriptions for gluten free food supplements directly, rather than having to request individual prescriptions from their GP.
To be eligible, patients must have a clinically confirmed diagnosis of coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, live in Scotland and be registered as an NHS patient with a GP practice. The review of the pilot found strong support for the continuation of the service. In response to a survey, 93 per cent of patients, 92 per cent of community pharmacists and 98 per cent of GPs who took part agreed that the trial should continue as a permanent service.
During the pilot, 82 per cent of patients switched from getting their prescription from a GP to their community pharmacy and 85 per cent of GPs responding to the survey said that the Gluten-Free Food Service had reduced their workload.
Contractors receive £125 per month for providing the service and are reimbursed for the products using CPUS prescription forms.
Health Secretary Shona Robison, commented: “There are around 5,000 patients in Scotland who will benefit from these changes – helping those who have a clinical need for a gluten-free diet to have greater control and more flexibility in managing their condition.
“For those patients affected, maintaining a gluten-free diet can improve their health and prevent NHS treatment further down the line. This is particularly important for patients on low incomes who may not be able to afford to maintain this specialised diet.
“This national service is the first of its kind in the UK and, as the review has shown, it is a system that is welcomed by patients, GPs and pharmacists, alike.
“As well as making best use of the clinical skills of pharmacists, the Gluten-Free Food Service frees up GP time which can be better spent dealing with patients with more complex needs. It is an example of how collaborative working within primary care can better manage the demands on individual GPs – an approach we are looking to replicate across our primary care services.”