The government is being urged to ensure that doctors follow its new guidelines on the recognition and diagnosis of coeliac disease in a bid to identify the estimated half a million people in the UK who remain undiagnosed.
The guidelines, launched by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), are backed by Dr Chris Steele, resident doctor on ITV`s This Morning, and ambassador of the charity Coeliac UK.
"I strongly support the need to raise awareness among the medical profession for diagnosing coeliac disease," he said.
"It is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Working together we can help find the half a million people in the UK who are undiagnosed and ensure that they receive the best advice and assistance."
Under the new guidelines, doctors are urged to offer testing to all patients with symptoms typically associated with the auto immune disease, such as prolonged fatigue or persistent gastrointestinal symptoms, or with conditions that are linked to the condition, such as type 1 diabetes.
Coeliac UK said that by offering these tests, GPs would alleviate the suffering experienced by individuals, reduce repeat visits from patients with unresolved symptoms, and ultimately save the NHS money.