The All Party Parliamentary Group for Allergy in conjunction with the National Allergy Strategy Group (NASG) are today launching a report “Meeting the Challenges of the National Allergy Crisis” which calls for an influential lead for allergy to be appointed who can implement a new national strategy to help the millions of people across the UK affected by allergic disease.
The report will be delivered to the Department of Health this morning in the hope that Ministers will pay attention to the growing epidemic and the lack of NHS services available.
Around 1 in 3 people, more than 20 million in the UK, have an allergy related disorder. A significant amount of allergic disease is severe or complex so that one patient suffers several disorders, each triggered by different allergies. Fatal and near fatal reactions occur, due to foods, drugs and insect stings and have been increasing over recent years with hospital admissions for anaphylaxis rising by 615% in the 20 years to 2012. Despite this, allergy has largely been ignored and is poorly managed across the NHS due to lack of training and lack of manpower with expertise. The core problem is the very small number of consultants in adult and paediatric allergy and the fact that most GPs receive no training in allergy. This mismatch has continued despite millions of patients having significant allergic disease and that allergy is a complex specialty involving many areas.
This report makes the following recommendations for action
- A National Plan for allergy
Make allergy a priority and invest in a National Plan led by a designated Department of Health Civil Servant or NHS lead with sufficient authority to implement change. Bring together medical professionals and patient support organisations to work together to develop the strategy and help steer the work required to improve allergy services.
- Specialist Care
Expand the specialist workforce as a priority. Ensure training programmes prioritise allergy so that specialists of the future are appropriately trained and can safely deliver care.
- Primary Care
Ensure all GPs and health care professionals in primary care have knowledge of allergic disease (8% of GP consultations are for allergy). Ensure allergy is included in the GP curriculum (RCGP have recently added allergy for new GP exams) and exit examination and improve allergy education for the already qualified GPs. Appoint a health visitor and/or a practice nurse with sufficient training to be responsible for allergy in each practice
For local commissioners to understand the allergy needs of their population; and that it is not adequate to assume that other specialties can deliver specialist allergy care. Commissioners should ensure access to adult and paediatric allergy consultants and pathways of allergy
Hosting the event, Jon Cruddas MP, chair of the All Party Group for Allergy said “The time has come for the Government and the NHS to give allergy the priority it deserves and to recognise the true burden it can place on those who are affected and their families and wider communities. This report looks at the solutions to the problems and makes sensible, achievable recommendations for change. We look forward to seeing them implemented.”