Gluten free prescriptions to be axed in Sheffield

From 1 December, GPs in Sheffield will only be able to prescribe gluten free foods in “exceptional circumstances.”

To reach this criteria, patients must be considered at risk of undernourishment.

Ruth Beresford, 28, was diagnosed two years ago but has suffered from the disease for much longer.

She said: “A lot of people keep going on about how Tesco do their own gluten free now, and they do, but it’s not reinforced. It doesn’t include the calcium, vitamin B12 or Iron supplements which are important in gluten free bread because Coeliacs tend to not absorb nutrients as well.”

Mike Davidson, Organiser for the Sheffield branch of the Coeliac UK group, which has more than 600 members said: “Most people agree with the continuation of prescriptions for people with Coeliac Disease.

I think if people don’t get to keep their prescriptions there is a risk that they will no longer keep to a gluten free diet. That risk means that they can then start to get all kinds of future problems which will put a heavier burden on the National Health Service.

If you’ve got Coeliac disease you can’t even eat a crumb of bread or anything that has gluten in at all because it will affect your digestive system and depending on how badly damaged your digestive system is. It could take days, weeks or months to repair.”

Coeliac Disease is an auto-immune condition caused by a reaction to gluten and affects 1 in 100 people in UK, though some experts think there could be many more people who have been misdiagnosed with other illnesses such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Gluten free foods have been provided by the NHS since the 1960s.

Mr Davidson added: “Our response is obviously continue to fighting for these prescriptions because we feel they are absolutely essential.”

Following a consultation that finished on 20 October, an NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group report said they cannot consider the alternatives such as a voucher scheme in the Vale of York, due to added associated costs.