NHS North Kirklees and NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have taken the decision to stop the routine prescribing of a range of products including gluten-free foods.
The CCGs have also decided that requests by patients for more expensive brands of medicines will not be routinely supported where an appropriate, alternative generic medicine is available.
In addition, the CCGs have taken the decision to amend the criteria for approving individual funding requests for a period of 18 months.
These decisions come after careful consideration, taking into account the views expressed by local people, health professionals and other stakeholders during the recent ‘Talk health Kirklees’ public consultation, which received over 700 responses.
During the consultation both CCGs acknowledged that their proposals for change were driven by a financial challenge and the need to invest the local NHS budget to benefit the health of the whole population and ensure value for money. While we are spending more every year on NHS services, increasing demand, alongside rising costs means we have had to look at using our budget in a different way and make some difficult decisions.
Dr David Kelly, local GP and Chair of NHS North Kirklees Governing Body said; “NHS services are improving and as a result, more people are living longer. But, we are also seeing increasing demand for NHS care, alongside rising costs. This means we have had to look at using our budget in a different way. Decisions like this are difficult and we know that some people will find them hard to accept, but the money saved can be spent on things that have much more of an impact on people’s health.”
Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Chair of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG Governing Body added; “The NHS budget is just the same as everyone’s household budget – we can only spend the money we have. When the bills get higher we have to tighten our belt and cannot always keep buying more services.”
Feedback received as part of the consultation indicated that there was general support for many of the proposed changes and an understanding of the challenges facing the NHS locally. However, the CCG’s recognise that some people will find the decision hard to accept.
The changes will come into effect during 2017 and both CCGs will continue to work with GPs, third sector organisations and other stakeholders to communicate the changes to patients, address any concerns raised during the consultation process, and support those who may be affected.
The following products will not routinely be available on prescription in Kirklees because they are widely available to purchase without a prescription in local pharmacies and/or supermarkets:
- gluten-free foods
- sunscreens for skin protection from UV radiation
- soya and thickened infant formulas
- infant formula for lactose intolerance
- cream for unwanted facial hair and other products that have a predominantly cosmetic action
- emollient (moisturiser) for minor skin conditions
- camouflage products e.g. for port wine stain birthmarks
- multivitamins, where no specific deficiency has been identified
GPs will still be able to prescribe these products in certain circumstances, for example on the recommendation of a specialist consultant or where patients have a metabolic disease or other clinical diagnosis which necessitates their use.