rich emollient used in the management of eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.


I’m just back from a brilliant parliamentary reception organised by the National Allergy Strategy Group (NASG), aimed at raising awareness of allergies amongst MPs and the government as a whole.

Jo Swinson MP

Jo Swinson MP in a very nice blue jacket

Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire chaired the event and was incredibly supportive of the concerns of everyone in the room. She totally understands allergies and is fighting for more support and recognition from the government and MPs (I understand we were expecting about 20 MPs to attend).

With the current state of the UK economy I can’t help feeling it’s going to be an uphill struggle. Austerity grips and funds are likely to be directed to more worthy causes.

But allergies can kill. They can severly debilitate peoples lives. Without proper advice, support and care many are terrified to leave their homes, eat out, let their children go to school or parties etc. etc. The list goes on…

Allergies are here to stay for the forseeable future so we have to learn to live with them, cope with them and educate others about them.

Dr McEwan shared some interesting facts.

1 in 3 adults have allergies of some degree.
40% of children have allergies.
5 million of the 20 million people in the UK with allergies are serious enough to see a specialist.

Despite these shocking statistics, and lets face it, these figures are probably already out-of-date, our NHS is woefully inadequate to cope with this rise in allergies.

Would you believe me if I told you that there are still only 30 full time allergy specialists for both children and adults across the whole country? There are other part time staff, nurses and dieticians who help enormously at each allergy specialist hospital, but it’s not enough.

No wonder waiting lists are long, in some cases longer than six months. But it’s not acceptable for many GPs to be so uneducated about allergies. Even if they don’t have the knowledge themselves, they should know the protocol for referring someone displaying allergic symptoms to a specialist. That’s not rocket science. Delegate the problem to someone else, don’t just ignore it.

Following these sombering statistics we heard from members of the Anaphylaxis Campaign share their experiences of the NHS, some good, some bad, but all emotional, inspirational and motivating.

To hear peoples personal stories, to see how much they had fought for help and information, and to realise how strong they were. I had a tear in my eye on many occasions.

It’s sad because it shouldn’t be like this. Why is it so hard? Why is awareness and understanding of allergies so poor in this country? Many people go private but not everyone has that luxury.

Me outside Cromwell Gate queuing to get in

Me outside Cromwell Gate queuing to get in

I don’t have any answers but I can do my bit on here, on my blog. I can share my experiences and encourage those suffering in silence to seek help, get advice, get that referral.

I know from personal experience that meeting my allergy specialist at Amersham Hospital gave me so much more confidence to try new things and experiment with cooking myself different meals.

Sadly for me I slipped through the cracks, suffered in silence with a doctor who told me allergy tests weren’t available and that it was very unusual to be allergic to more than one food. Oh he didn’t dispute my nut allergy which had been confirmed by blood tests when I was much younger. His advice about the nut allergy? Don’t eat nuts! Doctors have also told me that I just have eczema and asthma and that these things were not related to my allergies. Well we all know that’s not true.

Finally, after two unreported anaphylactic attacks and one A&E visit I finally got that referral. Special thanks to Tanya Wright, especially for her amazing product packaging library which always has me wide eyed scanning for new products I’ve not tried yet.

So if you’re reading this and wishing you had some more answers, that you’re all alone with noone to talk to, first of all, post a comment and you’ll get lots of support here in return. But secondly, go to your doctor and insist on a referral. Don’t take no for an answer. Find out where your nearest allergy support centre is. Kick up a fuss. Get that help. It’s worth it.

It was amazing to mingle with like minded people, share stories, experiences and recipes and I’ve made some new ‘allergy’ friends. It’s one of the ony occasions when you are one of the many, those without allergies were probably in a minority for a change.

I didn’t get the chance to speak to Jo Swinson or Dr McEwan but I did manage to yell as Jo left, “Nice jacket!” to which she replied, “Oh thanks, I have to be very careful as a few other lady MPs have the same one!” Thank you Jo for supporting us once again. It does mean so much.

Thanks to Mandy East and everyone at the NASG, The Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK for a truly inspirational, emotional and completely packed out event and for all that you do to raise awareness of allergies.



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

One Response to National Allergy Strategy Group parliamentary reception – raising awareness about allergies

  1. This is really interesting – and some of those stats are staggering!

    I guess we should think ourselves VERY lucky at talkhealth that 4 of the 30 allergists in the UK took part in our online clinic on food allergy this month and were able to help some of the many food allergy sufferers.

    For anyone who missed the clinic you can take a look here as it’s archived for all to read –

    Keep your blogs coming Ruth – they are always really interesting to read and very informative.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *