NHS England Guidance on prescribing gluten-free foods in England

NHS England has published guidance for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) on the prescribing of gluten-free foods in primary care in England. This follows the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) consultation outcome, to continue to allow access to gluten-free foods on prescription in England but to restrict items to gluten-free bread products and mixes only.

The British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA) is pleased to see that the NHS England guidance acknowledges the postcode lottery which currently exists across England and has made it their objective to provide clear national advice to make local prescribing practices more effective. We welcome the acknowledgement within the guidance, that the provision of gluten-free bread and mixes on NHS prescription is expected to minimise any drop in adherence.

Declan O’ Brien, Director General of the British Specialist Nutrition Association, said: ‘We welcome that NHS England expects bread products and mixes to be provided on prescription in England for all patients diagnosed with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. However, we are concerned that the contradictory statements within the guidance may lead to more confusion amongst prescribers and more uncertainty for patients.
‘We remain optimistic that every CCG will see the benefit for patients and follow the National Guidance to align with this expectation.’

More information

Contact Declan O’Brien, Director General, at: Declan.Obrien@bsna.co.uk, or 07889487261

​ Notes for editors:

  1. The British Specialist Nutrition Association (BSNA) is the voice of the specialist nutrition industry in the UK. For more information about BSNA, visit: www.bsna.co.uk
  2. Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system reacts to the ingestion of gluten.
  3. 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease.
  4. A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for this lifelong condition. Adherence to the diet is key to reduce the risk of association long-term health complications such as osteoporosis, ulcerative jejunitis, intestinal malignancy, functional hypospenism, vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency. In children, a delayed diagnosis can lead to growth failure, delayed puberty and dental problems.
  5. The Department of Health and Social Care ran a consultation on ‘The availability of gluten-free foods on prescription’ between 31 March-22 June 2017, which received 7941 responses.
  6. The changes to gluten-free prescribing can be read here.