Gluten-free food on prescription

Information about gluten-free foods

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is found in any food that contains these grains, including bread, pasta, and cereals.

Gluten-free foods such as bread and flour, are often used by people who need to cut gluten out of their diet, for example people with coeliac disease. If you have coeliac disease and you eat gluten, your immune system will attack your own tissues. As a result, people with coeliac disease are advised to cut out all gluten from their diet for life.

Gluten-free foods used to be harder to find in shops and supermarkets, so these foods were available on NHS prescription. Now, they are easier to find in shops and online.

Our decision on the prescribing of gluten-free food

In 2016, NHS Kernow reviewed gluten-free prescribing in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The decision was made to no longer support the supply of these foods on prescription.

This decision was not taken lightly. It followed a public consultation, which sought the views of patients, healthcare professionals and the public. It considered the ease of finding gluten-free foods in shops and online, and the cost to the NHS. The cost to the NHS in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly of prescribing these foods was £350,000 a year.

In 2017, NHS England ran a national consultation about gluten-free foods. As a result of this, changes were made to the NHS drug tariff. The gluten-free products that could be prescribed by the NHS were reduced.

In 2021, NHS Kernow carried out a review of its decision, considering the national changes. It decided not to change its decision. NHS Kernow transitioned to NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly on 1 July 2022. That means NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly does not support the supply of any gluten-free foods on prescription.

If you have any questions, please email our communications and engagement team.

Page last reviewed: 12 July 2022

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