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CPS hopeful after gluten-free pilot extension

CPS is in "constant dialogue" with the government about allowing pharmacists to submit electronic prescriptions for gluten-free products

Service has been extended until September to allow the Scottish government time to review its benefits, says Community Pharmacy Scotland

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) is hopeful that the country's gluten-free service will be commissioned permanently, following a six-month extension.

The pilot, which was originally intended to run from April 2014 for 12 months, would continue until the end of September 2015, CPS announced last month (December 18). This would give the government time to complete its review of the benefits of pharmacist interventions with coeliac patients.

CPS policy development pharmacist Matt Barclay told C+D he hoped the review would reveal positive patient feedback. If the service was shown to be cost-effective and satisfied patients then it should become a “permanent feature of community pharmacy", he stressed.

There were "one or two issues" CPS wanted to improve, such as allowing pharmacists to submit prescriptions for the service electronically, and the professional body was in "constant dialogue" with the Scottish government about this, Mr Barclay added.

The service, for which contractors are paid £125 a month through Scotland's pharmacy contract, enables adult and paediatric patients diagnosed with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis to request individual gluten-free items from a pharmacist, rather than visiting their GP for a prescription.

The contractor’s view

Contractor Fiona McElrea of Whithorn Pharmacy, Wigtownshire said her patients had found it easier to order their gluten-free products and had “a lot more variety” to choose from. “It has been very successful, I hope it will continue indefinitely,” Ms McElrea said.

Allowing prescriptions to be submitted electronically rather than written out by hand would save a lot of time, she added.

Contractor George Romanes, of Romanes Pharmacy in Duns, told C+D the service would be electronic in an "ideal world". Most pharmacists would be “very happy” to see the service continued as it seemed to "suit patients and pharmacies well", he added.


C+D reported last May that almost 100 per cent of pharmacies in Scotland had taken up the gluten-free service a month after the scheme launched.


Would you like to see the scheme commissioned permanently?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Abid P, Primary care pharmacist

Most, if not all, supermarkets now sell a wide range of gluten-free products. Should not be available on NHS.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

I'm sure availability is high in affluent metropolitan areas with a large population of worried well daft enough to think GF foods benefit non coeliacs. BUT that is not the whole of Britain and access to GF foods is poor in many rural areas, never mind the significant price premium for GF. GF food is available on prescription because adherence to a gluten free diet is so important to coeliac patients. Without NHS supply economic pressures would make it impossible for some people to maintain a necessary GF diet.

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