Frequently Asked Questions - Gluten Free Foods prescribing

Updated: 9 October 2017

Frequently Asked Questions:

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is undertaking a public consultation regarding proposals to replace prescribing of gluten free foods with a top-up visa card scheme, which will only be made available to the most vulnerable patients or parents / guardians of vulnerable patients, on the basis that they receive one of the following means tested income benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (paid on its own or with a  contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (paid on its own or with contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit - paid on its own or with Pension Credit Savings Credit)
  • NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate 
  • Universal Credit

Below is a list of questions which hopefully we have answered for you but you may have some further questions – if this is the case please contact us either using the phone number 01904 555870 or email

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: What is the CCG proposing?

the commissioner of healthcare services, the CCG has a statutory responsibility to deliver healthcare services within the resources that are allocated to the Vale of York.  You may be aware that the demands on the local healthcare system have led to a £44million shortfall in financial resources, meaning it is now essential for funding for services to be prioritised to meet the needs of the most vulnerable patients.  This need to prioritise resources has led the CCG to review NHS gluten free food provision in the Vale of York.  

The CCG is proposing that gluten free foods on prescription should be replaced by a top-up Visa card scheme, which would be made available to the most vulnerable patients or parents / guardians of vulnerable patients only, on the basis that they receive one of the listed income benefits.  The CCG understands that the proposal may be disappointing to some of our patients and any decision to make changes to current services will not be taken lightly.

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Q: What is the top-up visa card?

A: The top up visa card is a chip & pin visa debit card. It has been developed with patients to enable staple gluten free foods to be purchased from supermarkets and food retailers instead of receiving gluten free foods on prescription.

It will have a nominated value on the card which will last for 3 months from the date of issue. The card can be used to purchase staple gluten free foods only. After 3 months then the card will be automatically topped up with the same amount unless the patient informs the CCG that their personal circumstances have changed (i.e. they are no longer in receipt of the benefits stated on the consent form).

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Q: Why are you proposing to means test the top-up visa card?

The proposal has been made on the basis that manufactured gluten-free substitute foods are more reasonably priced and more readily available in shops and supermarkets. It has also been considered that these foods are not a requirement for maintaining a nutritionally complete diet and that a healthy, balanced, gluten-free diet can be achieved by eating food which is naturally free from gluten.     

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Q: Is this a money saving exercise?

The CCG has a responsibility to its population to make the best use of the limited resources available; this means making difficult decisions about how to prioritise and allocate resources.  The CCG has decided to prioritise resources for gluten free foods to the most vulnerable patients within the Vale of York, which in turn will release resources to provide care to other clinically prioritised services.

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Q: Is this decision being imposed from ‘on high’?

The CCG Clinical Executive and Executive Committee have considered an options appraisal which weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of gluten free foods prescribing, the top up card scheme, and means testing.  Following this, the CCG is undertaking a four week consultation period to gather feedback from the public, including those patients and partners of the CCG who would be directly impacted by the proposal.  

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Q: Can I still get a gluten free foods prescription?

You will still be able to get gluten free foods during the consultation period.  You will be notified well in advance of any changes to gluten free foods prescribing.

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Q: My child has gluten free foods prescription but I am not on any of the benefits you state, would I still be able to get gluten free foods on prescription for them under the new proposals?

You will still be able to get gluten free foods during the consultation period.  The proposal to make the gluten free food top-up card scheme available to the most vulnerable patients means that only children of parents/guardians on the benefits listed will be able to obtain gluten free food via the top up card scheme; gluten free foods on prescription would no longer be available under the proposed changes.  

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The CCG will undertake a four week period of public engagement from 9 October 2017 until 5 November 2017.

This will provide an opportunity for you to provide feedback and ask questions regarding the CCG’s plans, including a face-to-face event and survey.  


You can get involved in the consultation by completing this survey:  

The survey is also available in alternative formats (e.g. paper version, large type, other languages) on request.

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