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Gluten Free Food Prescribing

Following a consultation, and consideration of the issues, NHS East Lancashire CCG will no longer support the prescribing of Gluten Free (GF) foods on the NHS. This will take effect from 1 April 2017 and individuals who require gluten free food will be expected to purchase these items themselves. 

The prescribing of GF foods on the NHS was introduced in the 1960s, when the choice and availability of GF products in shops was limited. Because of the limited availability of GF foods, it was appropriate then for GF foods to be prescribed. Following a review of GF prescribing, a public consultation and detailed and lengthy consideration of the issues, NHS East Lancashire CCG has confirmed that it will no longer prescribe GF food for the following reasons:

  • A wider range of GF products are now available at supermarkets, health food shops and online.
  • Many carbohydrate foods are naturally gluten free, such as potatoes, rice and some noodles. These products can be bought from supermarkets.
  • GF products are significantly more expensive when prescribed on the NHS, than the retail prices in the shops and online.
  • Food items are generally not available on prescription for other conditions.

Individuals who require advice and support can continue to receive this from their dietician and dietetics service, and patients are urged to attend annual review appointments when they are offered.

Throughout its consideration of the issue, the CCG has engaged with the East Lancashire Coeliac Society and has offered to work with them to help them support people who require GF diets, and will continue to do so.  

Dr Lisa Rogan, Head of Medicines Management said:

“The NHS is facing severe financial pressures, and we are faced with some very challenging choices to make. The CCG did not arrive at this decision lightly, and gave a significant amount of consideration to the matter.

Gluten Free products are now much more widely available, and cheaper in comparison to the price that the NHS pays for these items on prescription. In addition, many foods are naturally gluten free and there is a considerable amount of support available in the form of online information to support people to live gluten free.”

The CCG has produced an information sheet for GPs and patients which is available at: http://eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/patient-information/your-health/gluten-free

There is a range of resources concerning a gluten-free lifestyle at the coeliac society website: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-diet-and-lifestyle/