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Anger at allergy slow-down

Thursday June 24th, 2010

Allergy services in Britain have made little progress since a major series of investigations several years ago, experts warned today.

Small steps have been taken - but little has been done to set up a much-needed network of specialists, according to major medical organisations.

Services remain "inadequate" with a big gap between numbers of patients and services available, according to the latest report issued by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists.

It says most of the recommendations of a 2007 report by the UK House of Lords have not been implemented.

This includes improvements in food labelling, training in allergy for GPs and other services and recruiting more specialists.

Steps that have been taken include the establishment of ten medical training posts, a pilot allergy centre in the north-west, improved advice for pregnant women and short guidelines on children's food allergy from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, who chaired the 2007 report and chaired the new study, said: "Allergy causes great distress, particularly to children and their families, and can blight people's lives."

"Bringing the key players together and recognising the need for expertise in managing complex allergy can dramatically improve quality of life and help patients control their disease."

Fellow investigator Dr Bill Egner, of the British Society for Immunology, said: "We can do better and allergy services can still improve despite the current financial climate.

"A coalition of partners from patients to specialists are ready and willing, they merely need appropriate facilitation of clinical leadership and intelligent direction from the Department of Health and PCT Commissioners to make it a reality."

A spokesman for the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which helped with the report, said: "The current lack of services continues to result in unnecessary cost to the NHS in unchecked and ongoing disease, eg asthma exacerbations, repeated anaphylaxis, or undiagnosed food and drug allergies as well as poor educational and work performance."

A spokesman for the National Allergy Strategy Group, which includes specialists and charities such as Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign, said: "Patients will be disappointed by this Report. Little has changed to help patients with allergic disease. This is more of the same.

"Patients report that they continue to have difficulty accessing care, receive inadequate advice or find that allergy is just not considered as a cause of their illness."

She added: "The current lack of services is resulting in unnecessary cost to the NHS in unchecked and ongoing disease eg repeated anaphylaxis, or undiagnosed food and drug allergies. There is lack of investment in allergy services and in allergy trained staff."

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | NHS | UK News

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