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Gluten-free prescriptions restricted to bread and mixes next month

The DH made the decision to restrict gluten-free prescribing in February
The DH made the decision to restrict gluten-free prescribing in February

Pharmacy teams will not be able to dispense NHS prescriptions for any gluten-free items other than bread and mixes from next month, PSNC has announced.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) decided in February that “bread and [flour] mixes only” should remain available across England, following a public consultation that received almost 8,000 responses – including 1,150 healthcare professionals.

The regulatory amendments to restrict prescribing of gluten-free products have now been put before parliament, and will come into force on December 4, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said yesterday (November 21).

Any “outstanding prescriptions (including owings) for gluten-free foods other than bread and mixes” should be dispensed and submitted for payment before December, the negotiator recommended.

“If a patient presents a prescription for any restricted gluten-free foods in December, they will need to be referred back to the prescriber to discuss suitable alternatives.”

Read PSNC’s full briefing on the gluten-free prescription changes.

Last year, C+D hosted a roundtable debate to discuss what plans to scrap certain treatments, including gluten-free items, from prescriptions could mean for pharmacists, patients, and the wider NHS. Listen to it below, or subscribe to all of C+D's podcasts here.

10 Comments
Question: 
Will many of your patients be affected by this change to gluten-free prescriptions?

Aldosterone antagonist, Locum pharmacist

I remember last year when the local surgery stopped prescribing the Juvela's etc.... never seen one in a pharmacy since. Some of the patients at the time were confusing the pharmacy staff for bakers! Ha, ha, ha

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Oh, I've fielded a call where I was told that I wasn't cooking the bread correctly and that's why it was taking so long. Really wanted to say it would be prepared and sent to them when it's good and bready.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I have thought for a long time GF foods have no place in a dispensary. We prepare medicines, otherwise we'd be a bakery.

JOHN MUNDAY, Locum pharmacist

I have always thought that it was an appalling waste of taxpayers money to get GF products of any sort on a script. A lot of folks just take the p**s and abuse our good nature hence the boxes and boxes of fresh bread. This is about time.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

There's a lot of seedy customers out there.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Is this an actual 'everything except bread and mix is on the blacklist' or is it one of those 'you take the flak instead of us' type things? Also, why should someone get free food just because they have coeliac disease? Why not just subsidise the prices so that they are the same as regular goods?

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

What about the most vulnerable patients with coeliac disease? 

As many CCGs are now also stating that they have placed further restrictions on bread and flour mixes where is the safety net so that vulnerable patients are able to adhere to their diet and manage their condition?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

See what has been done to the standards in regards to mental health care over the last several years, and you'll get your answer there in what the target is.

Richard Binns, Primary care pharmacist

is bread an essential part of a healthy diet?

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Not in the quantities some people eat it in! It's probably worse to have too much than too little...

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