In a bid to save on funds, the NHS is cracking down on providing prescriptions for “low value” medicines, including cold remedies, gluten-free food and sunscreen. These items, as well as certain types of pain relief and travel vaccines, will no longer be available on the NHS.
The decision has been met with controversy, with many arguing that their reliance on such items is not of “low value” at all, especially with regards to pain relief and gluten-free food. Sarah Sleet, of Coeliac UK, said it was disappointing that gluten-free food would now be paid for by the individual, especially given not all shops store gluten-free food.
“Research shows that budget and convenience stores, which are relied upon by the most vulnerable such as the elderly, those with disabilities and on low incomes, have virtually no provision.”
However others have pointed out that gluten-free food is now widely available in the majority of shops and can be bought online. Local health bosses have stated such items have little clinical value despite costing the NHS a staggering £400 million. NHS Clinical Commissioner are also seeking to remove indigestion and heartburn medicines from the prescription list.
Gill Nuttall, of Melanoma UK, also expressed disapproval with the decision, stating:
“I speak to melanoma patients every day who are receiving life prolonging treatments in melanoma, some of whom suffer some terrible side effects, including extreme reactions to the sun. Sun screen has a very high clinical value to those patients.”