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GPs to trial giving patients vouchers for gluten-free foods



GPs in Yorkshire are to give out supermarket vouchers for gluten free foods instead of issuing prescriptions under a pilot scheme aimed at freeing up GP time and cutting costs.

NHS Vale of York CCG said the scheme would allow GPs to give patients vouchers for six months, redeemable at a number of supermarkets, cutting down on GP visits for prescriptions and reducing NHS spend on ‘luxury foods’ such as cakes and biscuits.

GPs would give out the vouchers for staple foods, such as bread and flour, in one six-month lump sum, reducing the need for GP visits that would normally have been taken up by patients requiring gluten-free prescriptions.

The scheme requires 100 coeliac patients to commit to the scheme over six months, waiving their access to prescriptions for gluten free food for the duration.

NHS Vale of York CCG said: ’Prescription uptake of coeliac patients is not 100% but even if all patients [in the NHS Vale of York CCG] decided to take up the voucher scheme, this would still be less than the current spend on prescribing gluten free products.’

The move comes after a review into the current system revealed that the prescription of gluten free staple foods was not consistent across the health service, with some GPs offering more luxury items on prescription than others.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, the CCG’s clinical lead for the project, said: ’This pilot scheme will allow patients to choose how they spend their vouchers, giving them a greater choice of staple gluten free foods.

’Patient involvement and their feedback are crucial to this pilot scheme and the assessment of how it has worked.’