To help people diagnosed with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis manage their gluten free diet, the NHS provides access to staple gluten free foods on prescription.
Gluten free food is currently available in all areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, access to gluten free food on prescription is dependent on what CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) area you live in.
2017 National Consultation in England
In 2017 The Department of Health and Social Care held a consultation about providing gluten free foods on prescription to try and make local prescribing policies more effective. (1)
The consultation received responses from patients, members of the public, health care professionals, suppliers of gluten free foods, charities and NHS organisations.
The conclusion of the consultation was that a range of gluten free bread and mixes should remain available to all people clinically diagnosed with coeliac disease in England. This struck a balance between achieving savings for the NHS and maintaining availability of gluten free food for coeliac patients. However, only 60% of CCGs in England continue to recommend that GPs prescribe staple gluten free food to those clinically diagnosed with coeliac disease. (1)
For people that are eligible to take one, a gluten free prescription plays an important part in their healthcare.
A quote from Karen, who was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2010
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is the official body that represents the whole of the dietetic work force in the UK. Registered dietitians are the health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems.
The BDA recommend that staple gluten free food should be available on prescription:
“The provision of gluten free foods on prescription plays an essential role in supporting people with the coeliac condition adhere to a strict, life-long gluten-free diet (5)”
According to the British Dietetic Association, receiving staple gluten free food on prescription (5):
The Juvela range of gluten free bread, all-purpose flour mixes and breakfast cereals are fortified to help you reach your recommended daily intake. This reduces the risk of long-term health problems stemming from coeliac disease.
Gluten free food purchased in supermarkets may not be fortified with all the vitamins and minerals that you need as someone with coeliac disease.
Read a quick rundown of the fortification of our range here.
Coeliac UK is the charity for people who need to live without gluten. Coeliac UK is fighting for the provision of vital gluten free prescriptions and to make sure that the voices of people with coeliac disease are heard and considered in local decision making about availability of gluten free food on prescription.
“We feel strongly that the prescribing of gluten free foods is an essential NHS service that should be available to all people diagnosed with coeliac disease. (3)
Cost and patchy provision of gluten free food makes maintaining the diet very difficult for people with coeliac disease. Gluten free food on prescription helps people stick to their diet, minimising the risk of further complications. (4)”
(1) Department of Health and Social care (DHSC): Report of responses following the Public Consultation of Gluten Free Prescribing. London : s.n: 2018
(2) Coeliac UK. Gluten Free foods: A revised prescribing guide. s.l. : Coeliac UK 2012.
(3) Coeliac UK. https://www.coeliac.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/fight-for-prescriptions/: 2019
(5) BDA: Policy Statement Gluten Free food on Prescription: 2018
(6) A dietary survey to determine if patients with coeliac disease are meeting the current healthy eating guidelines and how their diet compares to that of the British general population. Kinsey L, Burden ST, Bannerman E.2008, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 62, pp. 1333-1342.