NHS North Lincolnshire CCG is changing the range and quantities of gluten free items that will be provided on prescription locally.
Gluten free bread and flour will be available on prescription up to a limited monthly amount, which will continue to provide patients with a supply of gluten free products.
However, items such as cereals, pasta and pizza are no longer recommended on prescription and will not be available. The decision was made by the CCG in order to continue to contribute to the cost of people eating a healthy gluten free diet and also ensure fair and effective use of NHS resources.
With the increased awareness of coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, gluten free foods are now much easier and cheaper to buy. There is a wider range of gluten free products on offer in shops and online and these items now often cost less to the public, than they do for the NHS to purchase. People needing to eat a gluten free diet are no longer disadvantaged in the availability of and access to the foods they need.
Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler, Medical Director for the CCG, explained, “We are not stopping the access people have to important staple gluten free foods, but we are having to change the range of items offered and the amount provided on prescription. People have more choice of gluten free products now than they did when the NHS first started to prescribe gluten free items to patients with coeliac disease, and now these products either cost the same or in some cases actually cost less than the price to the NHS to continue to prescribe these products.”
He added, “People currently receiving gluten free products on prescription will be informed of any changes to their prescription by their GP and their needs and dietary requirements will be reviewed and discussed with them.”
The CCG has agreed to prescribe bread and flour on prescription and only obtain fresh bread from suppliers without surcharges. They will also ensure that prescribed quantities do not exceed 6-8 units of bread or flour per month, depending on the age of the patient.
This is in line with the outcome of the government consultation on the availability of gluten-free foods on NHS prescription. Following this consultation, the government has decided to restrict gluten-free prescribing to bread and mixes only. The majority of consultation responses were in favour of this.