Prescriptions for Gluten-free food to cease

From 1st May 2018, Morecambe Bay registered patients will no longer be able to get Gluten free products on NHS prescription from their GP or in the case residents in South Cumbria directly from community pharmacies.

NHS Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is following over 80 other CCGs across the country including Blackpool, Greater Preston, Chorley & South Ribble, Fylde & Wyre, East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen who have already adopted a no-prescribing policy for gluten-free foods.

This decision follows a review of gluten free prescribing that considered comments from local public engagement and the national guidance recently issued by NHS England, following a national consultation. The CCG also took account of the following points in making the decision to stop providing gluten free food:

• A wider range of gluten free 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.
• Gluten free 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.

Dr Alex Gaw GP and Clinical Chair of Morecambe Bay CCG 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 this matter significant consideration”

“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”.

Public information on coeliac disease and its symptoms and causes can be found on the NHS Choices website here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Coeliac-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx

The NHS Choices page above also includes a link to the website of Coeliac UK, the UK’s leading charity for people affected by coeliac disease: https://www.coeliac.org.uk/home/