Gluten-free breads and flour mixes should remain on prescription to those who are clinically diagnosed with coeliac disease according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The announcement follows a national consultation.
The decision has been driven by a number of factors including concern by many clinicians that removing access to gluten-free foods would impact patient health in the long-term. The report acknowledges that a prescription provides coeliac patients with a reliable and accessible supply of gluten-free foods to help adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Chief executive of Coeliac UK Sarah Sleet welcomed the decision but warned that there was still concern at the actions already taken by individual Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to withdraw gluten free food on prescription in some regions.
“As CCGs are autonomous and do not have to follow national guidance we will identify where access to prescriptions has effectively been removed and challenge those CCGs to review and reverse their actions which are certainly harder to justify in light of this decision announced by the government,” she said.
A strict gluten free diet is the only treatment for coeliac disease, a lifelong autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when gluten is consumed. The consequences of not maintaining a strict gluten free diet are serious with complications such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, a rare type of bowel cancer, and neurological conditions. For children, non-adherence to the diet can have additional consequences including faltering growth and delayed puberty.