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VIEWS WANTED ON PRESCRIPTIONS FOR GLUTEN-FREE FOOD

isleofwightccgThe Isle of Wight (IW) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reviewing its policy on gluten-free foods as part of prioritising healthcare spending to reflect the current needs of the population.

It would like to propose reducing prescribing of gluten free foods this year and stopping the supply of gluten-free foods on prescription from April 2017. The CCG would like to understand the support people would need to control their diet and is actively seeking views.

Gluten-free foods are prescribed for people with coeliac disease. This is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks healthy tissue in the small intestine in the presence of gluten leading to damage so the body can no longer absorb nutrients. There is no cure for the condition and the only option is to avoid all food containing gluten. Foods containing gluten include wheat, rye and barley products such as bread, pasta, many cereals, biscuits and cakes. In the last 5 years supplies of gluten free products at affordable prices has become more common in supermarkets.

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The IW CCG currently commissions the Wightbread service to enable access to gluten-free products: this allows people to order a limited amount of gluten-free food each quarter, which can then collected from pharmacies across the island.

Speaking following the CCG Governing Body meeting in July, Chair Dr John Rivers said:

“This year, the Isle of Wight will spend £226,000 on the provision of gluten-free foods such as bread, pasta, pizza bases and biscuits – more per head than any other CCG in England, yet there is little evidence that the provision of these foods on the NHS is a key factor that motivates people to follow a gluten-free diet.

“In the light of the clinical evidence, the CCG Governing Body has decided to launch a public consultation starting this month that will run for four weeks until October 21, 2016.  This will explore what people think about stopping the provision of gluten-free foods on the NHS here on the Island.”

The consultation will also look at what other support people need to help them keep to a gluten-free diet.

The CCG wants to hear from people with coeliac disease as well as other members of the public, GPs, dieticians and other clinicians.  People are encouraged to respond to this consultation via a survey that is available on the CCG web site at http://www.isleofwightccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/public-consultations/public-consultations.htm.

More information about Coeliac Disease and gluten free diets can be found on the NHS Choices website at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Coeliac-disease/Pages/Treatment.aspx.

Featured photo: BrendaWiley/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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