If ever there was a contentious issue, gluten free prescriptions comes top in the coeliac world.
Those diagnosed with coeliac disease have always been able to get their gluten free 'staples' on prescription.
But with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire NHS cluster threatening to cut gluten-free prescriptions completely, what is the future of this? And what do you think?
Personally, with coeliac sufferers flying with rage, it's hard not to get caught up in the movement to stop them cutting prescriptions.
But I can't help but feel there are bigger issues behind this.
Who uses prescriptions?
The first thing to think about is who actually uses prescriptions? Yes, gluten free foods are readily available in the supermarket. And yes they are expensive. But not as expensive as a prescription.
An average loaf of gluten free bread will probably cost you around £2-3 in the shop, on prescription, £7.40.
Ok, so some loaves you can only buy in batches of 6 or 8, which would work out cheaper than the supermarket cost, but let's put those aside for now for argument's sake, and work with single items.
Now personally, I wouldn't want to pay that for a loaf of bread. Or a bag of flour. Or a box of crackers. So to anyone who is able to put gluten free items on their shopping list, I think a lot probably would.
However, if you receive free prescriptions, especially due to your income (or lack of) then you may not be able to afford to just buy 'Free From' products off of the shelves. You may rely on your prescription.
Items available on prescription
To me personally, the bigger issue here is not cutting prescriptions, but addressing WHAT you can actually get.
Instead of cutting all prescriptions, why not just stick to limiting what is available, which has already been done in a lot of places?
I mean, let's face it, we're supposed to get 'staples' on prescription, and I personally don't see biscuits and crackers as staples. Especially when these are the kind of foods that contribute to health problems themselves. It's kind of the equivilent (and I may be exaggerating slightly here) or prescribing McDonalds.
Perhaps another important issue which is being overshadowed here is the cost of Free From foods. Why should we pay more for food because of a disease?
I didn't choose to have coeliac disease. I didn't ask to give up cheap foods for expensive alternatives when, quite frankly, some don't taste anywhere near as good.
So perhaps this should be addressed.
If Free From really is becoming more mainstream and popular, then why are we still paying extortionate prices for it??
So, do I think prescriptions should be banned?
I think we need a realistic approach. To look at the funding the NHS receive, to address high costs of free from products and to restrict unnecessary items that should not be on prescription.
But you wouldn't take away insulin from a diabetic. Or force someone with any other illness to go out and buy their medication. So why target us?
If you agree, and you don't think gluten free prescriptions should be cut, then please sign this petition, and spread the word: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27968