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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A £2 packet of pasta was costing the NHS £50 (including a £40 delivery charge)

By Daily Mail Reporter

Wasteful health chiefs have been paying almost £50 for a £2 packet of pasta, it has emerged.

While many shoppers have been watching every penny they spend, it would appear some health service bosses have been acting far less frugally with taxpayer cash.

Now one NHS Trust has finally come to its senses and is getting patients to buy the packets in supermarkets for £2.

Everyone who previously had gluten-free pasta on prescription from the Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS Trust has now been advised to buy it themselves.

'A £2 packet of pasta from a supermarket could cost the NHS up to £47,' said Alison Issott, assistant director of medicines management at the Trust.

She added: 'It will cost £5 from the manufacturer, plus a £1 dispensing fee, £1 pharmacy fee and a delivery charge up to £40.

'Manufacturers and wholesalers can charge the NHS significantly more for gluten-free products than when bought directly in a supermarket.

'As a wide range of gluten-free products are now available in the supermarkets, which was not previously the case, it is felt reasonable and fair to expect people to buy some of their own foods, as we do not pay for food for patients with other long-term food intolerances.'

Patients with coeliac disease – who have an intolerance to gluten – can get NHS prescriptions for some gluten-free foods.

Around one in 100 Britons have coeliac disease. If they eat gluten – found in wheat, barley or rye – it causes damage to the lining of the small intestine which stops it absorbing nutrients.

Gluten free food, like these chocolate chip cookies, can be five times more expensive than standard items

Over time, this causes diarrhoea, bloating, extreme pain and weight loss.

Miss Issott added: 'As we recognise that having a gluten-free diet costs more than an average diet, the NHS will continue to help towards these costs by providing staple foods such as long-life bread and flour, which are less likely to attract substantial additional charges to the NHS.'

'This has not been an easy decision to make.

'While we do not wish to add to the burdens on patients we must ensure equity and best use of NHS resources,' she adds.



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