No more digestives for Yorkshire coeliacs?

We tend to get occasional waves of media coverage of food intolerance, food allergies and coeliac disease, usually centred around a celebrity claiming to have lost weight by giving up wheat, or perhaps around an awareness week or campaign.

Not all coverage is accurate, as previous posts on this blog have outlined, but most of it I think is useful – if only to trigger debate and raise wider awareness.

A lot of it, though, covers ground which has been well trodden over the years, so it’s always refreshing to see space given over to an aspect of living with a food sensitivity that gets little coverage.

This report from The York Press is unusual in that it concerns NHS prescriptions for patients with coeliac disease – an aspect of coeliac life rarely given more than a passing mention in general articles on coeliac disease.

In a nutshell, coeliacs are entitled to a certain quantity of core gluten-free food items on prescription through their pharmacist. These include breads, bread / flour / cake mixes, baking aids, crackers, pizza bases, pasta and plain biscuits.

The news that the local PCT is stopping prescribing prescribable ‘treat’ products – ie the cake and biscuit products – is noteworthy. I’ve not come across it before, possibly because it is by nature a local story and I tend only to follow the nationals’ coverage of food sensitivities.

I can’t make up my mind about the rights and wrongs of this.

Some coeliacs have expressed quiet concern to me about so-called treat products being available on prescription, as they feel that prescribable foods should be healthy or staple essentials only, and not foods such as biscuits which healthy-living advice from the Government has suggested we should all limit or cut back on. They feel it undermines the ‘cause’ in a sense: “You get biscuits from the doctor? Blimey – your disease can’t be that bad!”

On the other hand, having spoken to many coeliacs over the years, I have some degree of understanding of how tough it is to manage without many of the staple foods non-coeliacs take for granted, and how useful prescription foods are to coeliacs. Yes, food should be healthy – and prescription pastas and breads form an important part of the diet. But what about psychological health? We know that depression can be a huge problem for those with coeliac disease – are we to deny them the odd treat or two on the state?

It’s an argument which will run. I’m glad the subject has made the pages of a local – though suspect that most ordinary readers who don’t understand coeliac disease or what coeliacs have to live with may not be sympathetic. Would love to read your views.


  1. David H

    The UK unlike Ireland has had 'Treats' on their list of items that can be prescribed under the NHS.

    In Ireland however, while we don't have biscuits, cakes or cake mixes on our prescription listing, we do have breakfast cereals.

    Maybe the NHS intend including breakfast cereals as a prescription item as there is no doubt that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (this has been stated by all medical sources).

    You need to wait and see if in fact the UK adopts the Irish stance on breakfast cereals.

    Best Regards,

  2. Alex G

    Thanks David. I agree the lack of cereals on prescription is a glaring omission. From what I've seen of GF breakfast cereals, they seem healthier, ingredients-wise – though I'm not familiar with any fortification issues.


  3. Pingback: No more digestives for Lancashire coeliacs? | Allergy Insight

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