Fiona Headridge and Jacqueline Walker
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has awarded NHS Tayside’s Nutrition Team the Dame Barbara Clayton Award for innovation and excellence in their work taking forward the Coeliac Disease Service Improvement Programme.
Specialist Dietetic Practitioner for Coeliac Disease Fiona Headridge and Tayside Nutrition Managed Clinical Network Manager Jacqueline Walker started the Coeliac Disease Service Improvement Programme in 2010 and subsequently redesigned the service for patients so that it meets their needs better.
The traditional medical model of care is being shifted to a community-based approach which allows patients to manage their own treatment. This has included the trialling of a new way of providing gluten-free food prescriptions to people who suffer from coeliac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis.
Up until now, people had to visit their GP Practice to alter their gluten-free prescriptions, for example, changing from brown gluten-free bread to white gluten-free bread. This takes up valuable patient and GP time. The new Gluten-Free Food Scheme means that they don’t have to visit their GP Practice to manage their prescriptions, instead choosing their preferred gluten free-products from a list and ordering direct each month from their local community pharmacist.
Coeliac disease is a disorder of the small bowel. It is an auto-immune disease which means that the body produces antibodies which attack its own tissues. In people with coeliac disease a protein called gluten found in wheat, barley and rye causes this. Some people are also sensitive to oats. The only treatment for these conditions is by following a gluten-free diet for life.
Coeliac disease is thought to affect 1 in 100 people across Europe and it can occur at any age. There are a wide variety of symptoms which may include excessive tiredness, anemia, mouth ulcers, sore tongue, abdominal bloating, nausea, wind, diarrhoea, constipation and weight loss.
Undiagnosed and untreated coeliac disease can lead to a number of long term complications such as poor bone health, some gut cancers and a general feeling of ill health.
Jacqueline said, “This new service improvement programme puts patients and quality at the centre of their care and allows patients to help themselves and gives greater choice of gluten-free products which they say improves the quality of their life.’’
Fiona added, “This has been a great opportunity to work with patients and pharmacists to improve gluten-free food provision in a way which patients say helps them to follow their diet. As diet is the only treatment then ensuring this occurs is very important as it will result in better long term health for this patient group.”
The team were given £1500 as part of the award, which will be used to further the work on coeliac disease and gluten-free improvements within Tayside.
If you would like more information on the Coeliac Disease Service Improvement Programme or any aspect of the Tayside Nutrition Network, please visit our website at