Doctors are writing out fewer prescriptions for gluten-free items, figures have revealed.
NHS figures show that GPs in the Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area prescribed one gluten-free item for every 37 people in the first five months of 2017 or a total of 6,534 items worth £195,682. That is down by 29% on the same period in 2013.
The Examiner reported in July how a decision by the Greater Huddersfield CCG to take gluten-free bread off the list of items available on prescription had left Honley man Thomas Lynen facing the prospect of paying a month £53 for eight 400g loaves – more than £6 a loaf – from his local pharmacy.
The figures also showed that doctors in North Kirklees CCG prescribed one gluten-free item for every 43 people living in the area, 9% down on 2013.
GPs in Calderdale CCG wrote prescriptions for 7,080 gluten-free items worth £224,215 from January to May, 2017. That works out as one item for every 29 people living in the area – one of the five highest proportions in England, according to NHS data.
Across England, GPs wrote prescriptions for 2m gluten-free items between January and May, 2017 – out one for every 55 people and at a total cost of £91.5m.
Prescriptions can include food items like oats, bread, breakfast cereals, flour. Gluten-free food is required by people with coeliac disease, a digestive condition where the small intestine becomes inflamed and unable to absorb nutrients. It can cause a range of symptoms including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.