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Food on prescription

Prescriptions

  • If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease by a doctor, you can receive gluten-free staple foods via prescription from your GP
  • The National Prescribing Guidelines make recommendations on the amounts of gluten-free staple foods you can expect to receive on prescription each month
  • With NHS budget cuts we are seeing some areas restricting or cutting gluten-free prescribing but around 70% of CCGs are following National Prescribing Guidelines
  • We are campaigning for gluten-free prescribing to remain an NHS support for people diagnosed with coeliac disease.

As with prescriptions for medicines, your GP can write a prescription for gluten-free food which is then dispensed by a pharmacist. This may differ in certain areas.

Only gluten-free staple foods that are approved by the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) can be prescribed for people with a medical diagnosis of coeliac disease. This is an independent body that advise the Department of Health. Prescription staple foods include: 

Gluten-free foods with ACBS approval:
Bread / rolls
Breakfast cereals
Crackers and crispbreads
Flour / flour-type mixes
Oats
Pasta
Pizza bases

If you are unsure about which products to order, our Prescribable Products list helps you identify all of the gluten-free staples that have been approved for prescribing. You can download a copy on the right hand side of this page. This information can also be found in our Food and Drink Directory, this is kept current within our regular Food and Drink Directory updates published online and in Crossed Grain.

While following your gluten-free diet, you may want to change the products you receive on prescription. You may find that you can reorder preferred items from a repeat prescription without visiting your GP. However, if you want to change the items on your prescription, you may find you need to make an appointment to see your GP.

Your dietitian will be able to give you advice on your gluten-free diet. If you are newly diagnosed, check that you have been referred to a dietitian. Your GP or hospital doctor can arrange this.

You can also contact manufacturers directly, who will be able to give you information on their range of products and they are usually happy to send out samples.

Paying for prescriptions

In England, prescriptions for gluten-free food are not free of charge unless you qualify for free prescriptions. Find out if you qualify for free prescriptions.

Usually you will need to pay one prescription charge for each item on your prescription. The prescription charge in England is £8.40, as of 1 April 2016.

Prescriptions are free to everyone living in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

If you pay for prescriptions, it may save you money to purchase a pre payment certificate (PPC) which allows you to pay a set fee for either three months or 12 months. A PPC costs £29.10 for three months or £104 for 12 months.

A PPC covers you for all of your NHS prescription costs, no matter how many you need. To find out more about PPCs, speak to your local pharmacist, call 0300 330 1341 or you can order one online.

Sarah Sleet, Coeliac UK’s Chief Executive, discusses why access to gluten-free food on prescription is so vital for those with coeliac disease: 

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