More than 99 per cent of Scottish contractors have signed up for a pilot gluten-free dispensing service, C+D has learned.
Only six of the 1,250 pharmacies in the country had opted out of the scheme, which showed the "willingness of the pharmacy network to engage" with the care of coeliac patients, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) told C+D on Friday (May 16).
The high uptake for the year-long pilot, which launched last month, was an "encouraging sign" and CPS had already asked the Scottish government to find a way for the gluten-free prescriptions to be recorded electronically if the pilot proved successful, said CPS pharmacy services manager Matt Barclay.
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 pilot will be evaluated against patient satisfaction, cost-effectiveness and collaboration between healthcare professionals.
Contractors are paid £125 per month for the service through Scotland's pharmacy contract
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Mr Barclay said transferring patients across from GP care would be a "gradual process" and pharmacists had reported a "trickle" of patients entering the scheme so far.
Samantha Melrose, director of the Buchanhaven Pharmacy group in Aberdeenshire, said there was no reason why pharmacists would opt out of the service.
"It's quite an easy service to deliver and patients really like it. We can give them a lot more advice when choosing products," she told C+D.
But Ms Melrose said she was concerned GPs were continuing to prescribe larger quantities of gluten-free products to some patients than they were entitled to, which reflected badly on pharmacists who dispensed the correct amount.
"It looks like pharmacy is trying to restrict how much patients get, [when] it should be restricted everywhere. We've heard horror stories about patients getting 10 times [their allocation] from their GP," she added.
Last year, CPS said the pilot would produce data on the benefits of pharmacist interventions with coeliac patients and demonstrate why the service could be rolled out in England and Wales.
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