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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.


    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. 


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    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 is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.

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    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.
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    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." 
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    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."


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    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.
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    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."
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    Jefferson Adams
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    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.
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    Jefferson Adams
    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.
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