Our campaign successes
Fighting to sustain NHS support
Since the summer of 2015 access to gluten-free food on prescription in England has been under attack, as commissioners look for efficiencies in health budgets. In parts of England access to gluten-free food on prescription from the NHS has been cut or severely restricted. You can find out information on the areas where restrictions have been introduced by using our prescribing map.
The Department of Health and Social Care launched a consultation on the future of gluten-free prescribing in 2017 and one of the options put forward was the complete removal of all gluten free food on prescription.
We responded, putting forward our arguments in support of access to prescriptions, including the issues of cost, availability and nutritional contribution of gluten free staples in managing a lifelong gluten free diet. There was also a huge response to the consultation from individuals with coeliac disease and healthcare professionals. The Department listened to these arguments and made the decision to retain access to gluten free breads and flour mixes. This is a positive outcome for people with coeliac disease, and recognises the need for this important ongoing support in managing a lifelong autoimmune disease.
We will now contact those CCGs who have withdrawn access to prescriptions to persuade them to review and reverse their actions, which are certainly harder to justify in light of this decision announced by the government.
We’ve also supported the establishment of the Gluten Free Food Service in Scotland, where community pharmacy is now the primary provider of gluten-free food on prescription.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland access to gluten-free food on prescription in line with our National Prescribing Guideline continues, although there may be some local variation.
We’re helping to get people diagnosed
We’re campaigning to find the half a million people with undiagnosed coeliac disease in the UK. Since our campaign launched we have:
- released our first ever online and TV advertising campaign reaching over 40 million people since it began, driving more than 200,000 people to our website. Over 50,000 people have now completed our online assessment
- taken our campaign on tour. Between May 2015 and August 2016 we visited London, Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle. We held pop up events where staff and volunteers issued over 25,000 campaign leaflets and 13,000 gluten-free snacks
- assessed and tested almost 500 people for coeliac disease at our pop-up events with 17% of people referred to their GP for further investigation following a positive test result using the point of care test Simtomax
- provided posters and leaflets for patients in over 12,000 GP surgeries across the UK
- held our first ever national leafleting day with fantastic support from over 130 volunteers
- driven the introduction of Informatica in Wales, a new software tool to help GPs identify patients who might have undiagnosed coeliac disease
- completed a project to assess the use of community pharmacy for better recognition of coeliac disease, the findings are now published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.
Please visit our campaign website for further information or to view the campaign.
Better food information
Knowing which foods or meals are gluten-free shouldn’t be that hard, but as you know clear and trusted information can sometimes be difficult to come by. We work to improve the information you find on packaged products and menus so you know which foods are safe.
New regulations were introduced in 2014 which require producers of pre-packaged foods to emphasise ingredients that contain gluten in their ingredients lists. A minimum front size for ingredients lists has also been introduced.
If you’re buying food that isn’t packaged, staff will need to provide you with written or verbal information about any gluten used. Remember to ask if the information isn’t provided in writing.
Rules about how information about the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food is provided were introduced in 2012, these laws specifically relate to when the terms “gluten-free” and “very-low gluten” can be used, and more recent legislation restricts how other terms or phrases can be used.
Looking after children at school
We’re part of the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance which is working to make sure that children with health conditions are cared for when at school.
New regulations requiring schools to produce a policy explaining how they safeguard children with health conditions at school were introduced in England in 2014. The rules also mean that schools now need to complete an individual healthcare plan for students with coeliac disease.
The Alliance is now working to ensure that all schools are complying with the new rules by raising awareness and calling on Ofsted to include checks during inspections.
Making your hospital meals gluten-free
Healthy and nutritional food is an important part of any recovery from ill health, which is why we campaign to ensure you receive good gluten-free food when staying in hospital.
We campaigned as members of two expert groups for new hospital food standards in England which came about in 2015, when five new legally binding standards were introduced, including one for those on therapeutic diets like your gluten-free diet.
Making gluten-free shopping easier
Shopping for gluten-free food can be time consuming and frustrating. One of the many frustrations is needing to go to more than shop to find the staples you need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Our Gluten-free Guarantee (GfG) campaign aims to bring our basket of gluten-free staples to all retail stores, so no matter where you shop, you can find what you need.
Asda and Morrisons have both committed to our GfG campaign, and we hope to build on these early successes over the coming months and years.