NHSCC statement on the result of the Department of Health and Social Care consultation on the availability of gluten-free foods on NHS prescription

Responding to the publication of the formal government response to the consultation on “Availability of gluten-free foods on NHS prescription”, which concluded that only gluten-free bread and mixes would be available on NHS prescription, NHS Clinical Commissioners Chief Executive Julie Wood said:

“In a time when NHS resources are stretched to their limit, we believe that this is a missed opportunity to release the whole of the £22m that is currently spent on gluten free products that could be spent on frontline NHS services. While our members would have preferred the Department to go have gone further and removed the availability of all gluten free products on prescription, we welcome the decision that does limit a significant proportion of the current spend. We were also pleased to see the clarification that it does not affect the statutory authority that a CCG has to determine the availability of gluten-free foods in their local area – and to potentially go further if that is what is supported locally.

On a daily basis CCGs are forced to make difficult decisions that balance the needs of the individual against those of their entire local population. As a result, there are some tough choices that have to be made and many of our members have already taken the decision to go further than the Department of Health and Social Care’s decision.

If the NHS is to deliver what is expected of it within its current financial allocation, then we must all be bolder in making decisions that mean money currently being spent on foodstuffs is spent on other priority areas such as mental health and primary care, where local clinicians, patients and members of the public feel it is appropriate and safe to do.

We look forward to working with Department of Health and Social Care colleagues to help them shape the final guidance and lists for staple bread and mixes”

You can read our full response to the consultation here

1 February 2018