Focus on nutritional products for infants with specialist dietary requirements saves NHS millions

A piece of collaborative work focusing on clinical and cost effectiveness of nutritional products has been undertaken by a range of stakeholders led by NHS London Procurement Partnership (NHS LPP). The work has already led to a reduction in the price of one nutritional product which saved the NHS more than £3.8m in 2020/2021.

Working with the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) Optimising Nutrition Prescribing Group and the Food Allergy Specialist Group, the team applied NHS England’s ‘Medicines Value Programme’, which was set up to optimise health outcomes from medicines and ensure we are getting the best value from the NHS medicines bill, to amino acid infant formula products. Discussions are now underway to see how application of this programme can be developed further to include other nutritional products.

An amino acid formula is prescribed for infants diagnosed with severe Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA) if breastmilk is not available or insufficient, to ensure optimal growth and safely manage symptoms.

Rebecca Fisher, NHS London Procurement Partnership Allied Health Professional Prescribing Advisor and Royal Free Hospital Paediatric Dietetic Lead, said: “We believe in support for breastfeeding mothers first and foremost. Where medically essential, it is vital that we use nutritional products that are the most clinically effective for patients and also provide the best value for the NHS.

“We recognised the need to work jointly and build on existing work to improve clinical and cost effective prescribing of allergy products. Having dietitians at decision making level has been essential to support safe patient care as well as ensuring the products we prescribe are financially sustainable.”

Mary Feeney, Chair of the BDA Food Allergy Specialist Group, said: “This joint working approach has identified shared goals, given insight into medicines value decisions, and provided opportunities for allergy dietitians to influence cost savings at scale without compromising clinical care of allergic patients.”

NHS LPP provides key metrics for its members on nutrition spend in primary care listed by Integrated Care Systems (ICS). If you are a member and you’d like to view the Nutrition Prescribing for Primary Care dashboards, please log in here.