After careful consideration, the Governing Body of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has reached a decision to stop offering gluten-free foods on prescription.

Clinical Lead, Dr Charles Buckley explained:

“The CCG as commissioner of most NHS services and treatments in the county 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.

Everyone is aware that there are considerable calls on each ‘Gloucestershire pound’ and each pound can only be spent once.

It is vital therefore, that commissioners make decisions based on careful examination of the value (costs vs medical benefits) of each spending choice they make.

Decisions like this are always hard and difficult for some people to accept, although vital if we are to find resources for new, approved medical treatments that can transform lives.

NHS Gloucestershire CCG’s spend on gluten-free prescriptions for Coeliac Disease was £379,000 in the last financial year; this is money that we were not able to spend in other areas that we feel could provide greater medical benefit to our residents.

Each prescription brings unavoidable costs to the NHS because there is little or no potential for competition or shopping around, which individual consumers can do. In effect, the NHS has to pay a premium price for each product.

Gluten-free alternative foods and a wide range of naturally gluten-free foods are now very widely available in supermarkets – this was not the case 30 years ago when gluten free prescribing started.

It is important to make the point that there are several other medical conditions where a special diet avoiding certain ingredients is essential, but almost all of these are not funded by the NHS.

To help patients with these changes, we have employed a dedicated, full-time dietitian to support GPs and practice staff as well as patients.

We have also produced a Resource Pack with lots of information to help patients find alternative ways of following a gluten-free diet. This has been developed with the help of the dietitian who fully understands the importance of continuing to follow a gluten free diet.

We are also working with the national organisation, Coeliac UK locally to support any patients who have concerns about this change.

This change will take effect from 30 November 2016 and supporting information will be provided to GPs and patients shortly.”