NHS failing allergy sufferersReport says more should be done to help sufferers

21 July 2006

 

Health chiefs have admitted that many allergy sufferers feel let down by the NHS and some wait up to nine months to see specialists.

A review by the said more needed to be done to help those suffering allergies -which affect a third of all people at some point in their lifetime. It found that charities and other groups were often left to plug the gaps in NHS care.

About three million people every year in England visit their doctor or hospital suffering from conditions related to allergies.

Around 2,400 people – mostly children -  are admitted to hospital for eczema while there are also more than 3,000 admissions every year for potentially dangerous allergies.

The report added that anaphylaxis - a severe allergic reaction - causes 10 to 20 deaths every year but some deaths could potentially be prevented.

Food allergies increasing

Food allergies were also highlighted as ‘an area of current concern’ partly because they ‘appear to be increasing faster than other allergies’.

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis said: ‘The review has heard that people with allergies often feel let down by a poor and frequently unobtainable service.

‘For those living with an allergy severe enough to require specialist care, the lack of allergy services is a problem which can greatly affect their quality of life.

‘Not-for-profit organisations help, through helplines and other information services, to fulfil an important need that is yet to be addressed by the NHS, but this is not enough. Some people can wait three to nine months for an appointment to see a consultant in secondary care.’

The report also found that many people did not feel their GP understood their condition and put the NHS UK bill for managing allergic conditions at more than £1 billion a year.

Mr Lewis added: ‘We need to ensure that GPs and others in primary care have clinical knowledge and support systems in order to spot allergy in the early stages, so that an effective management plan can be offered from the start.’

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