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Coeliac Disease: Food

Volume 474: debated on Monday 31 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances' process is for reviewing the quality, range and availability of gluten-free food products on prescription for people with coeliac disease; (197760)

(2) which commercial and patient groups the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) has consulted in the last six months; and when the ACBS next plans to meet such groups to discuss the provision of gluten-free food on prescription for people with coeliac disease.

It is not within the remit of the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (ACBS) to review the quality, range and availability of gluten-free food products on prescription for people with coeliac disease, or to meet with stakeholders to discuss the provision of gluten-free food on prescription for people with coeliac disease.

The ACBS's primary function is to advise general practitioners on the circumstances in which it would be reasonable to prescribe particular non-medicinal products—mainly foods such as enteral feeds and foods specially formulated for use by people with given medical conditions.

The ACBS have not met or consulted any commercial or patient groups over the last six months. The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency and the Department, however, have been in discussions with the Infant and Dietetic Foods Association in conjunction with a review currently taking place of the ACBS and its activities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's policy is on the provision of gluten-free food in hospital for people with coeliac disease; and if he will make a statement. (197772)

As set out in Standards for Better Health (Core Standard C15(b)), patients' individual nutritional, personal and clinical dietary requirements should be met. Copies of the publication are available in the Library.

Patients who follow a gluten-free diet should be treated in exactly the same way as any other patient who—whether for clinical, religious or cultural reasons—requires a special diet. The way these needs are identified and met is a matter for local resolution.

However, effective admission or pre-admission procedures should ensure appropriate food can be provided as quickly as possible.