I would have expected better from the BBC. This morning they have run a story about how the NHS “paid £17 for a gluten-free pizza base”, and as you would expect, the comments have been vicious:
“I cannot believe the tax payers are paying for people’s food like this. I always knew the NHS was overindulgent but this just takes it to a new level. If you have a food allergy that is your problem; there is a reason why Sainsbury’s, Tesco, etc have gluten-free sections so take responsibility and buy your own food just like the rest of the population manages to do.”
There are far far more, but I am a happy coeliac, and I don’t want to depress you further. So if you know someone who has a less than helpful attitude towards coeliac disease, gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, here is my rant (which may or may not include some helpful points to bring up in your own rants with gluten-eaters):
If coeliac disease is left “untreated” (currently the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life), further health complications involve small intestine cancers, infertility, osteoporosis, depression and much more. If coeliacs cannot get access to the foods they need to stay healthy, imagine what the cost of treating them on the NHS will be?
I chose not to get GF food on prescription, because you still have to pay a prescription charge (unless you are exempt). So while the cost may be subsidised, it doesn’t completely disappear.
I also happen to find it relatively easy to get what I need at the supermarket (usually pasta, GF bread or pizza mix) but there are many people who do not have access to large supermarkets. While Tesco has a reasonable range in its superstores, try going to a Tesco Express and getting what you need. Also, take a look at those prices and imagine that’s your “choice”.
Prescriptions for gluten-free food are there to help the most vulnerable patients with coeliac disease – those who have limited access to large supermarkets, those whose cooking skills are not good enough to come up with alternatives, and those who find it hard to afford gluten-free food or adjust to the lifestyle and would otherwise “cheat” on the diet – thereby risking their health.
I don’t need a prescription for gluten-free foods, but some people rely on it. Before you pass judgement on their needs, try living a strict gluten-free diet for a week. Then imagine that that is what the rest of your life is going to be like.
P.S. Gluten-free cakes and biscuits ARE NOT AVAILABLE ON PRESCRIPTION!!!!