Bans on gluten-free prescribing save the NHS money

Full or partial bans on GPs prescribing gluten-free (GF) foods to people with coeliac disease save the NHS money in the short-term but the impact on patients especially those from deprived areas is unknown, NIHR-funded researchers at the University of Bristol have warned.

The study which looked at prescribing data across 94 per cent of GP practices in England between 2012-2017, revealed more than a quarter of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have already either completely banned prescriptions of gluten-free foods to anyone with coeliac disease or banned prescriptions to adults.

A further 34 per cent limit the amount and types of products available—a similar approach to new Department of Health and Social Care guidelines which recommend limiting the items available to bread and flour mixes.

The Department for Health and Social Care announced the policy change in February following a consultation. The move was welcomed by Coeliac UK, as policymakers had been considering completely removing all gluten-free products from being prescribed. Instead they no longer recommend the prescription of items such as pasta, cakes and biscuits.

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