GastrointestinalThe British Dietetic Association (BDA) has released a new version of its policy regarding gluten-free foods on prescription to coincide with new coeliac disease guidelines produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The BDA, founded in 1936, is the professional association for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 8,000 members.  The BDA is also an active trade union.

Coeliac disease is a serious and lifelong autoimmune disease caused by an abnormal immune response to eating gluten. If left untreated, it can have damaging effects on a patient’s health including an increased incidence of osteoporosis, fractures, some cancers and infertility as well as nutritional deficiencies.

The BDA’s updated policy states that a gluten-free diet is the sole treatment for coeliac disease and therefore warrants the continued provision of gluten-free staples on prescription. The BDA supports the innovative models for the provision of gluten-free foods using dietetic or pharmacy-led schemes. These schemes reduce the cost to the NHS of the provision of gluten-free foods on prescription, whilst maintaining an excellent service to patients with medically diagnosed coeliac disease.

The BDA is delighted to note that the newly updated NICE guidance clearly signposts dietitians and other health professionals towards the BDA’s own Centre for Education and Development course. The ‘Implementation: Getting Started’ section of the NICE guidance advises that

“Commissioners and providers of coeliac services should work together to develop a local service model for coeliac follow up care, which could include access to specialist dietitians, group clinics or pharmacy based support.

“This may involve developing the skills and knowledge of their dietitians (and other healthcare professionals) in coeliac disease through training, such as attending the British Dietetic Association course, Coeliac disease: an overview of management, or the coeliac section of the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education’s The Learning Pharmacy website (both having been developed in conjunction with Coeliac UK). The NICE resource impact assessment tool can help to inform this.”

As recommended by NICE, the BDA’s Coeliac disease: an overview of management interactive course covers the management of coeliac disease in children and adult patients. The next courses will take place on 17 September 2015 at Perth Royal Infirmary in Scotland and 9 October 2015 in Cardiff.  Those interested in participating should contact the BDA directly or book a place via the BDA’s Event page on its website.