Practices in York will hand out vouchers to patients with coeliac disease, to give them more choice over their food purchases.
“This pilot scheme will allow patients to choose how they spend their vouchers, giving them a greater choice of staple gluten free foods,” Dr Shaun O’Connell, a local GP and Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) clinical lead for the project, said.
Patients will be given enough vouchers for six months, so they don’t need to return for a repeat prescription or to change the staple foods they receive, hopefully freeing up appointments.
This is the first scheme of its kind in the UK, health chiefs from the CCG said, as previously GPs would write a prescription for gluten-free staple foods that are approved by the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances, which a pharmacist would then dispense.
This could include gluten-free bread, flour, biscuits and pasta, however the foods available may differ in local areas.
The supermarkets currently taking part are the Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons and a local health food shop in York.
The pilot scheme is due to start on 1 February 2016, using at least 100 people with coeliac disease, who are registered with a GP practice in the Vale of York.