The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a public consultation seeking views on its decision to restrict gluten-free (GF) prescribing to bread and mixes.
The consultation is a follow up to the DHSC’s March 2017 consultation, which gathered views on the availability of GF foods on NHS prescription. The latest consultation began after NHS England announced that it was working with clinical commissioning leads to develop national guidelines to drop ‘low priority’ items, including GF foods, in an attempt to save the NHS £128m a year.
The 2017 consultation sought views on three options: to make no changes to the prescribing of GF foods; to ban prescribing of all GF foods in primary care; or to only allow the prescribing of certain GF foods, such as bread and flour, in primary care.
Feedback from the consultation exercise was that GF bread formed a staple part of people’s diets and that it remained an expensive product for patients to buy when compared with a standard loaf of bread. The health minister’s preferred option was, therefore, to retain a range of bread and mix products on NHS prescription.
The proposed amendments to the prescribing regulations will end the prescribing of all GF foods in England other than GF breads and GF mix items — a mixture of two or more ingredients that are combined with any one or more additional ingredients, and baked or otherwise cooked.
The consultation is open until 1 October 2018 and it is anticipated that any proposed changes to the prescribing regulations would come into force in December 2018.