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A dietitian’s groundbreaking work to improve access to gluten-free food for people with Coeliac Disease has led to her contributing to a national policy statement. Helen Fraser-Mayall, a dietitian for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in Whitehaven (West Cumberland Hospital) is co-author to the first public policy statement for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) – “Gluten Free Food on Prescription”. Helen is also the Clinical Lead for Coeliac Disease for the BDA Gastroenterolgy Specialist Group.
The policy states the BDA’s position that gluten-free staple foods such as bread and pasta should be available on prescription. She explains:
“One of the main reasons I was approached to contribute to this landmark public policy is because of the work we have been doing here in Cumbria. We were one of the first counties in England to have a pharmacy led prescribing scheme.
It started as a pilot project in Allerdale, where I was asked to be part of a Steering Group, which consisted of medicine managers, community pharmacists, dietitians, the GP locality lead, a patient expert and West Cumbria Coeliac UK Group.
It was incredibly successful as it means people with Coeliac Disease can get regular supplies of gluten-free products directly from their local pharmacy without having to make an appointment to see their GP. Not only does this save the patient time, and inconvenience, but provides easier access to gluten free products. It also saves GP time and improves patient care by improving access, advice, support and a regular review by a dietitian. The scheme was soon introduced into Copeland.”
Helen’s team have been approached from other NHS trusts in England to share their experience and learning thanks to their work measuring clinical outcomes.
Helen has also written a chapter about Coeliac Disease for the key dietetic textbook the BDA “Manual of Dietetic Practice”, which is used throughout the country by all dietetic students and can be found in every dietetic department. She added:
“I am committed to raising the profile of dietetics in West Cumbria. We are a small busy, motivated team and we are constantly working to improve our service and the health of people in Cumbria. I have written magazine articles and organised publicity to try and raise awareness of what we do and how we can help people. I am a very energetic and enthusiastic person!”