On 1 November, Kevan led a Westminster Hall debate on coeliac disease and prescriptions. A number of CCGs across the country have put forward proposals that would see the withdrawal of gluten-free foodstuffs from prescription.
During the well-attended debate, Kevan spoke about how some 40% of CCGs in England are now choosing to restrict or remove support for patients with coeliac disease, which is leading to increasing health inequalities and what he described as a postcode lottery for NHS care, depending on where someone is diagnosed.
During his speech, Kevan shared his concern that cutting prescriptions for gluten-free products is a simple and easy target for CCGs under financial pressure. The entire prescription cost to the NHS in 2014 was £26.8 million or 0.27% of the total prescription budget—£194 per patient.
In his speech Kevan said:
"What some CCGs are doing is a false economy, because one hospital admission will cost more than the annual cost of prescriptions for an individual who adheres to a gluten-free diet.
"The CCGs that have already removed access to prescriptions for gluten-free products have not outlined or implemented policies that offer alternatives to safeguard patients, such as access to specialist dietary or nutritional advice. When a coeliac patient is taken out of a CCG’s responsibility because their gluten-free food prescription has been withdrawn, that CCG can no longer monitor them or determine the changed policy’s impact on that patient’s health. This is an important factor, and I am concerned that it has not been taken into account by a number of CCGs."
At the end of his speech, Kevan called for urgent intervention on the issue, and said that a pharmacy-led system, similar to what is in place in Scotland, could be delivered better and more effectively.
You can read or watch the debate in full by clicking on the links below: