Community Pharmacy plays a key role in highlighting undiagnosed coeliac disease as part of Coeliac Awareness Week

BSNA supports Coeliac Awareness Week 2017. As part of Coeliac Awareness Week, Coeliac UK is asking community pharmacies to talk with people who are regularly accessing prescription or over-the-counter treatments for irritable bowel syndrome or anaemias to prompt them to be tested for coeliac disease.[1]


It is now widely accepted that around 1 in every 100 people in the UK have the condition,[2] with 1 in 4 having been first treated for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and general tiredness.

BSNA believes that getting the correct diagnosis is important, both for patients and the NHS. Often getting a proper diagnosis of coeliac disease can take many years, on average 13 years, involving repeated visits to the GP. Most worryingly, the longer the diagnosis is delayed, the greater the risk of developing costly complications associated with coeliac disease such as osteoporosis.[3]

With the Department of Health currently consulting on gluten-free foods on prescription, BSNA supports the ambitions of the Community Pharmacy Forward View which promotes a broader multi-disciplinary role for community pharmacy in the management of long term conditions. 

People with coeliac disease must maintain a strict gluten-free diet for life.[4] Through community pharmacy, coeliac patients have regular contact with a healthcare professional and access to a safe supply of gluten-free staple foods.  With GP time so valuable, we believe that the Department of Health and NHS England should look to community pharmacy to provide an enhanced and more efficient service for people with clinically diagnosed coeliac disease, helping to protect those most vulnerable patients. 

Coeliac Awareness Week is 8 to 14 May 2017. More information about the campaign can be found on Coeliac UK's website or on Twitter: @Coeliac_UK #CoeliacAwarenessWeek 

[1] Coeliac UK. Crossed Grain Magazine. Summer 2017, pg 25.

[2] Coeliac UK. Key facts on coeliac disease. Available at:

[3] NICE. Coeliac disease (NG20). 2015. Available at:

[4] NICE. Coeliac disease (QS134). 2016. Available at: