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More prescribing curbs mooted as gluten free scripts banned

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NHS England has set out plans to curb the prescribing of items such as silk garments, bath oils, blood glucose testing strips, and needles for pre-filled and reusable insulin pens.

The start of a consultation on the move comes ahead of new commissioning guidance due to be given to primary care clinicians that bans prescriptions for gluten free pizzas, cakes and biscuits.

“It is essential the NHS should not be paying for anything which has been proven to be ineffective”

Simon Stevens

NHS England has previously ordered an end to the routine prescribing of 18 low value items such as homeopathy and products to treat 35 minor conditions such as paracetamol and cough mixture.

Today a new consultation has been launched on restricting the prescribing of eight more products that the government arms’-length body said cost the NHS more than £68m a year.

The consultation is asking for views on the following products that are deemed to be items of “relatively low clinical effectiveness” by NHS England:

  • Silk garments – used for eczema
  • Aliskiren – used to treat blood pressure
  • Amiodarone – used to treat abnormal heart rhythms
  • Bath and shower emollient preparations
  • Dronedarone – used to treat atrial fibrillation
  • Minocycline – used to treat acne
  • Blood glucose testing strips
  • Needles for pre-filled and reusable insulin pens – proposed recommendations are focused on substitution for more cost-effective products rather than a reduction in prescribing of these items.

Meanwhile, NHS England highlighted that it was also issuing guidance on new regulations that come in to force next week restricting gluten free prescriptions to bread and gluten free baking mixes.

The guidance, published today, follows extensive consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care and a change in the law, said the body.

It highlighted that the NHS originally began funding gluten free food for those with a gluten sensitivity in the late 1960s when availability was far more limited than it is today.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “As part of the long-term plan for the NHS, we’re determined to make taxpayers’ money go further and drive savings back into frontline care.

“It is essential the NHS should not be paying for anything which has been proven to be ineffective or where there are safer or cheaper alternatives,” he said.

The consultation will run for three months from 28 November until 28 February 2019, after which joint guidance is expected to be published by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

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