Gluten-free food will no longer be offered on prescription in Gloucestershire.
The governing body for the county’s NHS services has taken the decision to stop offering coeliac-specific foods on cost grounds.
Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spent nearly £400,000 on coeliac prescriptions in the last financial year.
Each prescription is very expensive to the NHS, as there is often very little option to shop around for lower prices.
— Project_Coeliac (@ProjectCoeliac) October 14, 2016
This means that the NHS has to pay premium prices for gluten-free food.
Clinical Lead Dr Charles Buckley explained that the money spent on coeliac prescriptions could be better used elsewhere.
“The CCG has a duty to plan and prioritise fairly and use the public money available to achieve the maximum health benefit for the people of Gloucestershire.
“There are considerable calls on each ‘Gloucestershire pound’ and each pound can only be spent once.”
Foods that can currently be prescribed include:
- Bread/ rolls
- Breakfast cereals
- Crackers and crispbread
- Pizza bases
He added that it was a difficult decision to take, and difficult for some people to accept, but the money saved could go towards new medical treatments and developments.
Gluten-free food is now widely available in supermarkets, and is often a more cost efficient option.
Buckley also argues that there are many other dietary conditions that are not funded by the NHS.
Some sufferers have claimed that the service wasn’t very well publicised.
Becky Guy, a university student and former coeliac sufferer, says she wasn’t aware that she could get gluten-free foods prescribed.