The first national gluten-free food service delivered by community pharmacists is being set up in Scotland as part of the national contract from 1 October 2015.
Patients with coeliac disease and others who require a gluten-free diet will in future be able to register with a pharmacist of their choice and collect their repeat prescriptions for gluten-free food without the need to see their GP first.
The decision to introduce a national service follows the success of an 18-month pilot scheme, during which the scheme was offered as an additional service under the contract.
During the pilot, 82% of patients switched from getting their prescription from their GP to their community pharmacist and 85% of GPs said the new service had reduced their workload.
And 98% of GPs, 93% of patients and 92% of community pharmacists who were involved in the pilot thought the service should be available across Scotland.
“This national service is the first of its kind in the UK,” says Scotland’s health secretary Shona Robinson. “As well as making the best use of the clinical skills of community pharmacists … [it] frees up GP time which can be better spent dealing with patients with more complex needs.”
She says the service is a good example of how collaborative working in primary care can reduce pressure on family doctors.