Gluten-free food may no longer be prescribed through the NHS under new government plans designed to save money for the health service.
The Department of Health has launched a consultation on its proposal to axe the prescription of all gluten-free foods in primary care, with many clinical commissioning groups having already done so.
“The government has proposed bringing an end to the prescription of gluten-free foods as a means of saving the NHS money.“
At present, staple gluten-free foods such as bread, flour and pasta are available on prescription to patients diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. This system has been in place since the late 1960s.
However, the government reasons that gluten-free food is no longer difficult to come by, as a wide range of these products are now sold in many supermarkets. Moreover, it was also noted that the NHS pays much more than the consumer for the same gluten-free products.
Estimates suggest this move could save 25.7 million pounds a year for the NHS, with an additional ten million pounds freed up due to patients no longer needing to attend GP appointments to get gluten-free prescriptions.
Health minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said: "We need to do more to ensure we get the best possible value for taxpayers' money. Changing the way we prescribe gluten-free food could make an important contribution to saving the NHS millions of pounds a year."
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