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Independents' Day

Gluten free foods on prescription set to be restricted

The number of gluten free foods available on prescription could soon be restricted in an attempt to cut the primary care prescription bill, following a consultation by the Department of Health.

The public consultation, launched last March, aimed to clarify whether changes should be made to the availability of gluten free foods that can be prescribed in primary care to those diagnosed with gluten sensitivity enteropathies. 

Following the consultation the DH has said that prescribing will be restricted to certain foods, which is likely to result in retaining a smaller range of bread and mixes, as preferred products.

The original consultation proposed three options: making no change; to end all prescribing of gluten free foods in primary care; to allow only the prescribing of certain GF foods, such as bread and flour, which is the option set to be adopted by the DH. 

A total of 7,941 responses were received, of which 5,420 were patients and 1,150 were healthcare professionals. When asked whether gluten free foods should be available on prescription, 81% said yes, however 70% also agreed that prescribing should be restricted to certain foods.

Respondents suggested a number of options that could be more flexible while still reducing the cost, looking at who should be eligible, what type of products should be included, the quantities and also ways of reducing waste when handling fresh items.

A DH report summarising the responses to the consultation argued that while this provision was necessary when it started in the late 1960s, and the availability to such foods was limited, this is no longer the case. With gluten free foods available in supermarkets, the paper states that patients can now easily obtain them without the need for a prescription.

Using prescription cost analysis, provided by NHS Digital, the report has claimed that changes to the prescribing of gluten free foods could reduce the primary care prescription bill by up to £22.4m each year.



Readers' comments (7)

  • I'm a coeliac. I agree with this step - it seems reasonable. I also would have been ok with them stopping all gluten free food on prescription, now that availability is so good, but that would have been a tough sell.

    Glad to see coeliac UK have stated that they are happy with the outcome too.

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  • lets see a rule change by a brave politician

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  • Cobblers

    It's a start.

    Let's now look at free prescriptions. Thyroid, Diabetes, Stomas, etc. Perhaps just the need not all scripts?

    The converse, those who have long term illnesses eg RA, BP, HRT, should get their therapy free?

    Maybe increase age for paying scripts to pension age?

    I put the above for consideration.


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  • Our CCG has just banned all Gluten free prescribing. Brave step. But necessary. Predict Coeliac UK takes CCG to high court, but would be interesting to see outcome of any legal challenge.Katherine

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  • Vinci Ho

    The right move , to me.
    Social circumstances and norms change with time(we are obviously in a changing time !) . Too restrictive or too liberal will run into mistakes without examining the situation sensibly .
    That’s why I always believe NHS general practice should be driven by centre ground politics.

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  • Gluten-free foods should not be on prescription at all.
    A plan was being discussed in 2005 to issue coeliacs with cards to use to obtain their own choice 'off the shelf' at a discount.
    This should have been persued much faster.
    Burdening GPs with the burocracy, and coeliacs having to request prescriptions are both ridiculous, when a discount card would be so much easier, and cheaper. Prescribed foods cost VERY MUCH more than the identical item 'off the shelf'!

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  • Dear pleasedontblamethemessenger.
    firstly please change your name, it is too long to write.
    secondly the CCG cannot ban any prescriptions and will not face the GMC if a patient complains. continue to prescribe appropriately and await a change in the regulations

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