The Health Department said today it introduced the voucher scheme for coeliacs following several appeals for such a system to be introduced, which appeals the previous administration had opted to ignore.

The department was reacting to a statement by the Nationalist Party today expressing concern at the development.

The Coeliac Association has also called on the government to halt the implementation of the system until it reassessed the proper value the monthly voucher should carry.

Through the system, the government is replacing the issue of gluten free food items for coeliacs with a €30 voucher. Holders of the pink carton or the Kartanzjan and pensioners would get a €50 monthly voucher.

The PN said that a serious government listened and did not take decisions without consultation. It was clear that the government decision, it said, was insensitive and showed that it was being thrifty.

The government said this evening that more than 50 shops and pharmacies were taking part in the scheme and the vouchers should encourage importers to increase the variety of gluten free products, bringing prices down.

It said that the voucher sum were based on the daily recommended calorific dose and was in conformity to the scheme adopted in the UK.

The department, it said, would also be auditing the scheme in its first months.

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