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Scotland commissions national gluten-free service

Shona Robison: Service will free up GPs' time

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison says the service will make the best use of pharmacists' clinical skills

The Scottish government has commissioned a gluten-free service across every Scottish pharmacy following a successful 18-month pilot.

The trial – in which pharmacists were paid £125 a month to dispense gluten-free products without a prescription – received "overwhelming support" from patients, pharmacists and GPs, the government said on Friday (September 18).

A survey of 516 Scottish GPs polled in March and April found that 98% wanted the service to continue, along with 93% of more than 1,500 patients and 92% of more than 350 community pharmacists.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said expanding the trial into a national service will give patients “greater control and more flexibility in managing their condition”.

“As well as making best use of the clinical skills of pharmacists, the service frees up GP time, which can be better spent with patients with complex needs,” Ms Robison said. The government wants to "replicate" this collaborative approach "across our primary care service", she added. 

A government review of the pilot set out 10 recommendations for the continuation of the service, including the creation of electronic prescribing forms for pharmacies and further evaluation of the benefits of annual pharmacy health checks for coeliac patients.

It also recommended greater alignment between Scottish health boards' gluten-free formularies, and suggested the service could be extended to care home residents.

CPS "delighted"

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) is “delighted” that the government's report highlighted the benefits of the service, said CPS pharmacy services manager Matt Barclay. 

The representative body is also “heartened” by the government's recommendation to develop an electronic prescribing solution to “allow more efficient service provision", he told C+D. CPS is looking forward to working with the government “to support the implementation of the recommendations”, he added. 


Should a gluten-free service should be commissioned across the rest of the UK?

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PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

This service continues to be a disgrace. Pharmacies are not "paid" to provide this service, this exact amount was removed from other general funding. Provide it or lose £125 monthly, it was!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Quite right too. This grocery role should be given to pharmacists as there is nothing more bring than discussing someone's Nairn's Porridge Oats, and Bourbon Biscuits...who gives a XXXX buy the pigging things.

Neeraj Salwan, Superintendent Pharmacist

paracetamol, aspirin, compression hosiery, bandages, shampoos, sun creams etc are all readily available so should these be taken off prescription. The question is where do you draw the line on who gets what free.We live in a compassionate society/ country where we look after people who get healthcare aid for free on all levels, be it free deliveries, free weekly blister packs, free minor ailment treatments etc. The fact is the Gluten Service pharmaciesare offering is for Coeliacs, a real condition and not just people jumping on the Gluten Free band wagon where we do an annual health check..

Jonathon Churchill, Locum pharmacist

Yay. Scottish pharmacists can now prescribe bread. Can pharmacy can get ANY better?

Peter Marshall, Community pharmacist

Surely the question should be "why are gluten free products " free on prescription. Should we introduce a system of co-payments. Eg every loaf of bread as a copayment of £1.50 -the price of a normal good quality loaf. Long term we have to ask whether gluten free products are now so readily available and contribute to a healthy diet, that we could even consider taking them off prescription altogether.

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