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    England Facing Big Changes to Gluten-Free Food Prescription Program


    Jefferson Adams
    • Evidence of flaws in access for people with celiac disease, coupled with a changing distribution of gluten-free goods has put England’s system of gluten-free prescriptions under scrutiny.

    England Facing Big Changes to Gluten-Free Food Prescription Program
    Image Caption: Image: CC--Eugene Peretz

    Celiac.com 05/24/2018 - England is facing some hard questions about gluten-free food prescriptions for people with celiac disease. Under England’s National Health Plan, people with celiac disease are eligible for gluten-free foods as part of their medical treatment. 

    The latest research shows that prescription practice for gluten-free foods varies widely, and often seems independent of medical factors. This news has put those prescribing practices under scrutiny.

    "Gluten free prescribing is clearly in a state of flux at the moment, with an apparent rapid reduction in prescribing nationally," say the researchers. Their data analysis revealed that after a steady increase in prescriptions between 1998 and 2010, the prescription rate for gluten free foods has both fallen, and become more variable, in recent years. Not only is there tremendous variation in gluten free prescribing, say the researchers, “this variation appears to exist largely without good reason…”

    Worse still, the research showed that those living in the most deprived areas of the country are the least likely to be prescribed gluten-free products, possibly due to a lower rate of celiac diagnosis in disadvantaged groups, say the researchers.

    But following a public consultation, the government decided earlier this year to restrict the range of gluten free products rather than banning them outright. As research data pile up and gluten-free food becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, look for more changes to England’s gluten-free prescription program to follow. 

    Read more about this research in the online journal BMJ Open.

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    Guest Cindy

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    I was diagnosed while living in England in 2008 and was able to use the gluten-free prescription plan. What a blessing it was. The mail order gluten-free food was so much better than I could get in the grocery store (especially bread) and at that time the UK was way ahead of the USA when it came to availability and variety of products. After returning to the USA, I often thought how much I missed their gluten-free products especially since the prescription plan made eating gluten-free so much more affordable. 

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com.

    Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

  • Related Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 09/14/2011 - There is a bit of a dust-up over the cost of gluten-free bread to UK taxpayers. It seems that either UK's National Health Service (NHS) is being gouged, or that the conservative party had released inaccurate statistics about the cost of gluten-free bread to UK taxpayers.
    In the UK, those diagnosed with celiac disease are given a doctor's prescription that allows them to purchase gluten-free bread from stores or pharmacies at cost that is partly subsidized by the taxpayer.
    The dust-up began when press reports stated that each loaf of gluten-free bread cost the NHS in Wales £32 (over $40), once the costs of diagnosis and prescription were factored in.
    This prompted a reply by major gluten-free bread-maker Genius Foods noting that Genius supplies the bread to the NHS at the exact same rate as it supplies to stores, and saying that Genius was frustrated by additional charges levied on gluten-free bread that it supplies to the NHS in Wales.
     Genius also said: “Some pharmacies, however, choose to order through a wholesaler, and in these instances the wholesaler can opt to apply an additional administration charge for taking and placing these orders." 
    Genius added that: “This handling fee appears to be charged directly to the NHS. Genius Foods does not profit in any way from these charges.”
    However, the UK government insists that talk of £32 loaves is incorrect, and claims that the £32 figure came after the nation’s Conservative party read statistics as referring to cost per loaf, rather than prescription.
    Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths said, "The actual cost for the single loaf of gluten-free bread in question is around £2.82, not the £32 claimed."


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 11/13/2015 - Celiac disease sufferers, and others in the UK, are unhappy with a government proposal to cut financial support for gluten-free food.
    UK celiac patients are currently allowed up to 18 lots of gluten-free bread, pasta and flour a month on the NHS. One unit is equal to a 400g loaf of bread, 250g of pasta or 250g flour or bread mix. Under the proposal the NHS budget of 209,000 pounds a year for gluten-free food prescriptions for gluten free food will face substantial cuts.
    But Alison Smith, of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), says the current system is out of date and unfair. NHS organizations set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to organize the delivery of NHS services. According to Smith, the wide variety of gluten-free foods available in supermarkets and even corner shops these days invites the creation of a new way of alloying gluten-free benefits that will be "fairer for everyone, not just people with celiac disease, so that we can actually share out NHS resources as fairly as possible."
    The range of foods currently allowed includes bread, rolls and baguettes, bread mixes, flour, pasta, crackers, pizza bases and breakfast cereals.
    The CCGs are proposing to change the allowance to eight units per month of bread, pasta and/or flour/bread mixes for everyone eligible for prescription gluten-free food. The change is needed, says Smith, because gluten-free food is vital for people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity.
    Source:
    mix96.co.uk

    Jefferson Adams
    Outrage Over UK Calls to Ban Gluten-free Food Prescriptions
    Celiac.com 03/07/2017 - The Brits are having a bit of a dustup over the best way to help people support with celiac disease.
    Currently, Britain's National Health Service supplies prescriptions for gluten-free food staples for people with celiac disease. Seemingly, no one disagrees with medical experts that celiac suffers should get support from the National Health Service to buy certain staple gluten-free products.
    The question, at least from one side of the political spectrum, seems to be whether prescriptions are the best way to provide that support. And that question lies at the heart of the dustup.
    In a recent article, the British Medical Journal presents a 'head to head' case for and against gluten-free prescriptions on the NHS.
    In opposition to prescriptions, James Cave, a GP from Newbury, suggests an alternative would be a national voucher scheme or a personalized health budget for patients, so they receive the difference between the cost of gluten-free products and the prescription.
    Matthew Kurien clinical lecturer in gastroenterology, Professor David Sanders, and Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive of Coeliac UK make the case in favor of providing prescription access to gluten-free staple foods, and say that removing prescriptions unfairly discriminates against people with celiac disease.
    They explain "targeting gluten-free food prescriptions may reduce costs in the short term but there will be long term costs in terms of patient outcomes." They also note that there is no other example in the NHS of a disease having its treatment costs cut by 50-100 per cent.
    Read more at Plymouth Herald.com.

    Jefferson Adams
    UK Cuts Gluten-Free Food Prescriptions
    Celiac.com 07/20/2017 - In the face of budget cuts, and in a move that may offer a glimpse of things to come, doctors with the the UK's National Health Service are eliminating gluten-free food prescriptions for adults, beginning in parts of Devon.
    As of July 1, the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for planning and buying the majority of healthcare services for local people have recommended limiting gluten free foods including bread, pasta, flour and multipurpose mixes, to under 18 years of age.
    That means that approximately 3,400 adults in Devon will no longer receive gluten free food prescriptions, a move calculated to save tax payers around £350,000 per year.
    The CCG says the action is part of a plan to encourage people to purchase items that they usually get via a physician's prescription.
    The new guidelines were allegedly developed with input from GPs, patients and other stakeholders. The patient letter from the CCG said: "Gluten free products are now widely available from shops and online, and are often sold to the public at prices that are considerably lower than the NHS pays when they are provided on prescription. Given greater availability and lower cost, the CCG says that the move makes sense.
    However, many gluten-free Devon residents are offended by what they see as an attempt to pass higher costs to them. One resident, Graham Devaney, of Umberleigh, said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. I now won't be able to eat bread because for a small loaf of gluten free bread from Sainsbury's it costs about £3, and I can't afford that because I'm disabled."
    Read more at devonlive.com.

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