Gluten-free staples to remain on prescription

Gluten-free breads and flour mixes will remain on prescription in England, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced following its consultation launched in March 2017.

DHSC said the preferred option is to retain a limited range of gluten-free bread and mix products on prescription, which will mean that gluten-free biscuits, cereals, cooking aids, grains/flours and pasta will no longer be available for prescribing. The majority of consultation responses were in favour of this, it said.

DHSC will commence work on amending the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts)(Prescription of Drugs etc.) Regulations 2004, Schedule 1, and then removing these products from the Drug Tariff. PSNC has said it will notify contractors when these changes are implemented.

The charity Coeliac UK has welcomed the DHSC's decision, saying it “is a positive outcome for people with coeliac disease, and recognises the need for this important ongoing support in managing a life-long autoimmune disease”.

Chief executive of Coeliac UK Sarah Sleet commented: “It is clear the Department of Health and Social Care has carefully reviewed the strong evidence base that we put to them with the help of our coeliac disease community, and made the right decision regarding the treatment and care of people with coeliac disease.”

However, Ms Sleet added: “We still have work to do to ensure the final regulation outcomes are adequate in enabling patients with coeliac disease, especially the most vulnerable, adhere to the diet and manage their condition.” She also highlighted the charity's concern at the actions already taken by individual Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to withdraw gluten-free food on prescription in some regions and urged them to “reverse their actions” which she said “are certainly harder to justify in light of this decision announced by the government”.

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