It’s official: NHS Croydon withdraws milk of human kindness

JAMES KILLDARE, our health correspondent, on how the NHS’s bean-counters in Croydon are refusing to yield to public pressure

The NHS’s decision to stop prescribing formula milk to nursing mothers of babies who are allergic to cows’ milk has prompted Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group to issue a “clarifying statement” today, but refuse to back down and reinstate the provision.

baby-formula milkThe account of how special formula milk for babies who could otherwise be malnourished, written by Inside Croydon reader Kirstie Smith, has this week attracted national attention, being reported by the Daily Mirror and the BBC.

A petition to the Croydon CCG to reinstate prescription provision for children with milk allergies has been raised, and there is another petition seeking an urgent debate in parliament on the issue.

The withdrawal of hip replacement operations for patients in Worcestershire, being reported today, is the latest egregious example of the postcode lottery which NHS provision has become through the repeated cuts to services and inadequate funding from the Tory Government.

Here in Croydon, the NHS cuts are seeing a refuge for women with mental health issues being closed and the provision of IVF treatments reviewed, as well as the withdrawal of a number of prescriptions, including baby milk.

According to AllergyUK, based on clinical testing, “Clinicians should anticipate that between 2 and 3 per cent of children have cows’ milk allergy”, and would need to use the special, more expensive formula milk, which can cost up to £45 for a single tin of the powdered milk, which can be used up in a couple of days. So the ban on baby milk prescriptions, according to the council’s own estimates of the borough’s population, might affect more than 120 Croydon families each year.

The widespread attention given to the banning of baby milk prescriptions prompted the Croydon CCG to issue this statement today:

“We share the public’s concerns and we will do what we can to reduce the impact on the most vulnerable in our communities and to make sure funding is there for those with the greatest clinical need,” Dr Tony Brzezicki, the clinical chair of NHS Croydon CCG, said.

Dr Anthony Brzezicki: hard choices

Dr Anthony Brzezicki: hard choices

“We are working closely with pharmacists, GPs, dieticians and paediatricians to look at the issues that may arise from stopping prescriptions for baby milk, to make sure everyone has access to good information to help them find appropriate products to meet their needs.

“We know that many families in Croydon will be anxious about this and we will communicate our plans in advance of any changes coming into effect over the coming months. At this moment in time, parents and carers in Croydon can still be prescribed specialist baby milks as before.

“These are very difficult decisions but we need to focus our limited resources where we can have the biggest impact on people’s health and well-being.”

But as one anxious mother told Inside Croydon this morning, “Advice and information is not exactly the milk of human kindness, is it?

“Once they withdraw the prescriptions, I might be having to pay £130 per week just to feed my baby because of the cows milk allergy.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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2 Responses to It’s official: NHS Croydon withdraws milk of human kindness

  1. Lewis White says:

    Setting aside this issue, it seems a shame that many mothers could learn to breast feed, but seem to be held back by prejudices inherited from their mums and grandmums. I wonder how much effort is given to encouraging prospective mothers to try the mum’s milk option, before trying cows’ milk or substitute.

    • Oh Lewis: it has got nothing to do with mothers “who could learn to breast feed”. Some mothers are unable to breast feed, and in those cases, where their child might have an allergy to cows’ milk, then need to use formula.

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