Having difficulty accessing gluten free prescriptions?

Coeliac UK believe that the prescription of gluten free staple foods is an essential NHS service for people clinically diagnosed with coeliac disease. Unfortunately, not every area in England supports the prescribing of gluten free staples. 

Our work

We believe that gluten free prescriptions play a crucial role in supporting people with coeliac disease. Unfortunately, in England access to gluten free prescriptions depends on where you live. We made the case for continued provision to the Department of Health and Social Care as part of their review of gluten free prescribing in England in 2017 and as a result they opted to maintain access to gluten free bread and flour mixes on prescription. Unfortunately, they left it to the discretion of local Clinical Commissioning Groups to set more restrictive policies if they chose to and as result we have seen withdrawal of gluten free prescriptions across much of England in recent years. We will be writing to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to highlight the impact this is having on the coeliac community in England. We believe updated national guidance is needed to address this issue and ensure the coeliac community is able to access the support it needs.

We know that gluten free foods can be on average three to four times more expensive than the same foods that do contain gluten; this can be even worse for budget items. For this reason, we continue to work with policy makers and our commercial partners to raise awareness of the challenges facing the coeliac community, particularly in light of current cost of living pressures and urge them to use the resources at their disposal to better support the coeliac community. This is a key priority for us going forward and our Evidence and Policy team are currently undertaking a project looking at cost in more detail. The hope is to be able to better evidence the impact of cost over time and how the cost of living crisis might be adversely affecting the coeliac community in particular. We plan to publish the report shortly and will be sharing this with policy makers and commercial partners.

Have your say

We want you to feel comfortable talking about gluten free prescriptions with your healthcare provider and suggest looking at our guidelines and taking a copy of our Prescribable Products List to your GP. Then, you can discuss which gluten free staple foods are available to you and understand more about their decision making. Learn more about the arguments for prescribing.

You could also speak with your local dietitian, as they are best placed to advise you on individual nutritional requirements, especially if you're finding it difficult to follow the gluten free diet.

If you live in England in an area where the gluten free prescribing policy has been restricted by your Integrated Care Board (ICB), and are still struggling, be sure to speak with your healthcare professional as they may be able to offer further support.

Stay in touch

If you are affected by the prescribing policy implemented in your area, we would like to hear from you. Your views can be vital in our correspondence with the local Integrated Care Board or other policy makers.

The NHS complaints procedure

Support our campaign and make your voice heard through the NHS complaints procedure. It recommends that you:

  • Complain to the service provider first – this will be to your GP practice. GP practices have a complaints procedure, so speak to the practice manager and complain in writing.
  • If you are still unhappy, you may want to contact your ICB in England. In Scotland and Wales, this will be your Local Health Board and in Northern Ireland, your Health & Social Care Board. You can access independent advice from your local Healthwatch (England), Patient Advice & Support Service (Scotland), Community Health Council (Wales) or Patient and Client Council (Northern Ireland).
  • And if you continue to be dissatisfied, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (England), Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (Scotland),Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (Wales), or Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints (Northern Ireland). These offices are independent of the NHS and Government.