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WATCH: Fears For Health Following Cuts To Gluten-Free Prescriptions

WATCH: Fears For Health Following Cuts To Gluten-Free Prescriptions

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:01am 9th October 2016.

Campaigners fear cuts to gluten-free prescriptions in Cornwall could have long term health risks.

It comes as NHS Kernow stops funding prescriptions for food for people diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Currently they can get things like pasta and bread provided - but now they will have to buy it all themselves.

It is as the NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group faces a £53 million deficit - and is just one decision in a review looking into 300 'small' services across the Duchy.

Lisa Bainbridge from Coeliac UK said: "There are still real gaps in the process - if you live in a rural areas if you have any kind of mobility problem, if you don't have a large supermarket near by - you are going to struggle to get gluten free food at a price you can afford.

"One of the things that is often missed is the impact and the cost to the NHS of people not adhering to the diet - because what the diet does is prevent long-term health complications.

"And there are some serious ones associated with coeliac disease - like osteoporosis and also small bowel cancer."

For those who do suffer from the condition, they argue that bread can often cost two and a half times more than a regular loaf - and those struggling with bills will be unable to buy it at all.

Coeliac sufferer Erika Gledhill, from St Austell, said: "It's an expensive thing - and for somebody like me who's working, it's okay, but somebody who is really on the breadline with children and who is struggling to pay bills - that's going to have a massive knock on effect.

"So you either pay out and make that decision on whether you do buy that gluten free or whether you have normal bread and then get ill - it's weighing up these sort of things.

"I could easily spend £30 on cereal for bread - it's all the basic stuff that everybody has the access to, I would have saved myself an absolute fortune."

But health bosses say it's the "right thing to do" - and that people will be able to buy it at a more affordable price than the NHS can.

NHS Kernow CCG Chairman Iain Chorlton said: "It's important that we get the best value for the public NHS pound that we can - remembering that every pound we spend on something that doesn't give us added value and good quality outcomes means that we can't spend it on another essential NHS service.

"Gluten free products was one area that we looked at where we're currently spending over £350,000 a year - and it costs the NHS over £75 a month for what can be purchased for around £32 a month for gluten free food products.

"So that's a really clear illustration of the us here in Cornwall spending more and then not being able to spend it on something else.

"This went through a very detailed process where we sought the views of people who have coeliac disease, where we spoke with healthcare professionals, healthcare managers, and had a really long, engaging consultation process - and the recommendation was very clear that this was not giving us the value that we need."

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