This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

GPs to trial giving patients vouchers for gluten-free foods

GPs in Yorkshire are to give out supermarket vouchers for gluten free foods instead of issuing prescriptions under a pilot scheme aimed at freeing up GP time and cutting costs.

NHS Vale of York CCG said the scheme would allow GPs to give patients vouchers for six months, redeemable at a number of supermarkets, cutting down on GP visits for prescriptions and reducing NHS spend on ‘luxury foods’ such as cakes and biscuits.

GPs would give out the vouchers for staple foods, such as bread and flour, in one six-month lump sum, reducing the need for GP visits that would normally have been taken up by patients requiring gluten-free prescriptions.

The scheme requires 100 coeliac patients to commit to the scheme over six months, waiving their access to prescriptions for gluten free food for the duration.

NHS Vale of York CCG said: ’Prescription uptake of coeliac patients is not 100% but even if all patients [in the NHS Vale of York CCG] decided to take up the voucher scheme, this would still be less than the current spend on prescribing gluten free products.’

The move comes after a review into the current system revealed that the prescription of gluten free staple foods was not consistent across the health service, with some GPs offering more luxury items on prescription than others.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, the CCG’s clinical lead for the project, said: ’This pilot scheme will allow patients to choose how they spend their vouchers, giving them a greater choice of staple gluten free foods.

’Patient involvement and their feedback are crucial to this pilot scheme and the assessment of how it has worked.’






Readers' comments (11)

  • It's a ridiculous and outdated notion that GF free biscuits should be prescribable anyway. My supermarket has a whole aisle of GF free foods. I don't prescribe low sugar chocolate for type 2 diabetics, do I? Same goes for what qualifies you for free prescriptions. I even had a woman lately ask if I'd start her on metformin - hba1c 49- so she'd get her other 9 lifestyle scripts on the taxpayer.

    I've been doing this too long. 3 years and 3 months to go till Plan B.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree that unreasonable to prescribe biscuits but while at your supermarket have you ever stopped to have a look at the price of gluten-free bread, flour or pasta? Sometimes 5-6x the cost of standard products. For families of children with coeliac disease from deprived areas the availability of basic items on prescription (staples only, reasonable quantity only, for those with confirmed diagnosis not just "a bit intolerant") will make a big difference to ability to maintain gluten-free diet, leading to reduce risk of active symptoms and long-term health consequences. It should not be abused, and ideally, as above, should be taken off GPs - but it is helpful.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I misread this for a few moments for doctors getting food vouchers and I thought goodness it has got this bad so soon!
    Perhaps it will do though as doctors will need to get payment in kind from the government to work.
    The indemnity companies will.soon make medicine too expensive a profession to practice in the UK and with all the paracitic organisations such as the GMC and CQC around, doctors will need food vouchers of they are to continue.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cornwall CCG refuses to fund luxury items, but push plenty of unhealthy pasta and bread as a staple diet.
    Which obviously is not good for anyone let alone anyone with type 1 or 2 diabetes. Carb restriction/management is a must for this group of people.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • no more gluten free prescriptions in some CCG's. Should not become uk wide given how widely available.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am a coeliac and so is one of my daughter's; two daughters are vegan though one sometimes is just a vegetarian. My son doesn't eat rice and another daughter won't eat pork (Because she doesn't like pigs. Go Figure!) The other three are a little young to express and enforce foo preferences. I do ll the cooking as I am the GP and wife is the specialist. Tell poeple to learn to cook. I'm busy yet I cook and I love it. It takes effort. I never buy gluten free biscuits,rarely buy gluten free bread and have a stock of gluten free sauces but spend very little on gluten free stuff despite a family of ten. The internet is full of cheap recipes etc and I know it is time consuming but really I am a GP and I have time to do this. I can whip up a delicious gluten free sauce from basic ingredients in about five minutes. Tell your coeliac's to get a gluten free life.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My understanding, when you add all the costs associated with a script "gluten free food" on prescription costs well over £20 for one item.

    Yes, gluten free food is more expensive in supermarket but far far cheaper then getting it on the script. Does the nation want gluten free food on script and reduce the health care available to them or the other way round? We know England can't afford both.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am a coeliac health professional.There are othe ways to save money in NHS eg How much do simple specials meds.cost? The specials companies should be targetted firsy as they charge extortinate ly for simple meds.This is the first step to payment full for prescriptions.Next will probably be asthmatics,diabetics etc.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have coeliac and I don't get anything on prescription but the cost of gluten free staples are much more expensive. I can afford it as a GP but I can imagine a lot of families cannot especially if they have more than one family member. And yes you can make an effort and cook up easy meals but sometimes it is nice just to have a quick sandwich or bowl of pasta. And I think children with coeliac will want treats like their siblings and friends sometimes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Great, common sense idea! Why waste a GP's time writing scripts and line the pockets of pharma companies for providing expensive versions of what is available in supermarkets?
    On a related note though, I thought we were trying to remove the NHS postcode lottery. In a NATIONAL health service we should aim for consistency and equity for all patients. There is a very great risk that in affluent areas, poorer people who arguably need this food on prescription will have no voice and will be forced to pay or risk illness.
    This is no trivial matter. Let us not forget the serious risk of lymphoma and other coeliac related cancers in patients who do not follow the correct diet.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say