A campaign by a Croydon mother, given a platform by Inside Croydon, has managed to get the Croydon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to U-turn over its proposed cuts to prescribing formula milk for babies with food allergies.
Kirstie Smith launched her campaign on this website earlier this year, as the local CCG, which determines spending for the borough’s GPs and other health service providers, put forward a range of cut-backs in the face of the latest reductions in funding from the Conservative government.
As we reported last October, in the postcode lottery that the NHS is becoming as a result of continued under-funding, the CCG recommended that a women’s mental health refuge in Purley is to close and from April, Croydon is to be the first borough in London where IVF fertility treatment is no longer available on the NHS, despite national guidance.
And special formula milk for babies who are unable to feed from their mother’s milk or from dairy milk because of allergies was also on the list of Croydon NHS cuts, leaving families with children affected facing bills of more than £100 per week for the special food.
On Inside Croydon, Smith drew attention to the plight of hundreds of affected families, and with the support of a national group of mothers with children with cow’s milk protein allergy, or CMPA, the campaign drew coverage from the Daily Mirror, regional television, and the backing of Croydon South MP Chris Philp, the father of a child with CMPA.
And this week, in a letter from Paula Swann, the chief officer of Croydon CCG to Gavin Barwell, the Croydon Central MP, it was confirmed that the baby milk prescription ban has been lifted.
Croydon GPs will now be allowed to prescribe formula milk for children with allergies until they are 12 months old.
“Following careful consideration of feedback received and from ongoing discussions with relevant clinicians,” Swann wrote, “the CCG will continue to prescribe specialist milks for babies who have been diagnosed with CMPA up to the age of 12 months. This will be part of a locally agreed treatment pathway the CCG are currently finalising for diagnosis and treatment of CMPA.
“From the age of 12 months on, weaning should be well underway. Infants should then be getting the majority of their nutrients from other food sources, rather than milk formulas… This makes CMPA infant formulas less important in maintaining a balanced and nutritionally complete diet in children of this age.”
Swann described this move as “the most appropriate solution for infants and children in Croydon”, and added that it ruled out seeking financial contributions from families towards the cost of their care under the NHS, which would have shattered one of the health service’s founding principles, of free care provision.
With her own children now growing rapidly and thriving, Smith is clearly delighted with the breakthrough, achieved on behalf of other Croydon families with babies with CMPA. “This is great news,” she told Inside Croydon.
“I am over the moon, even though the CCG U-turn does not directly affect me.”
Smith thanked her MP, Barwell, who she said had been “very helpful in pushing for them to re-consider”.
If only the local Tory MPs had direct personal experience of women’s mental health issues, or their families had needed IVF fertility treatments, perhaps they might have been equally “persuasive” over those cuts to Croydon’s NHS as well.
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