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

8Dec

Last Wednesday (2 December), talkhealth spent the evening at the Houses of Commons, talking with experts and MPs about the state of allergy care in the UK. We were there for a reception organised by the National Allergy Strategy Group and the All Party Group for Allergy, organisations that are campaigning for changes in the ways allergies are thought of and treated by the medical establishment.

 
It was fascinating to hear the ideas of some of the leading lights in the world of allergy care, and to talk to them, as well as campaigning MPs and allergy sufferers, about what needs to be done to improve the lives of allergy sufferers.

 

William Frankland MBE and Dr Pamela Ewan

William Frankland MBE and Dr Pamela Ewan – image courtesy of Tim Hewage photography and the NASG

We were delighted, for example, to meet William Frankland MBE, a 103 year-old world-renowned expert, famed for popularising the dissemination of pollen count information, for his work with Alexander Fleming and others in the development of penicillin (and predicting the increased incidence of allergy to penicillin), and for his novel approach to allergy research in which he studied allergic reactions by inducing them in himself by getting blood-sucking insects to bite his skin. We also met consultant allergist and expert in peanut allergies, Dr Pamela Ewan.
We learned a few surprising things about allergies in the UK, too: for example, around 1 in 3 people in the UK have a disease that might involve allergy – and about a third of those (around 7 million people) have allergies serious enough to require specialist care. Despite that, though, there are only 32 full-time (or equivalent to full-time) allergy specialists working in England, meaning that specialist care is being drastically undersupplied. Meanwhile, the numbers of people living with allergies and experiencing allergy-related symptoms is going up: over the last 20 years (until 2012) the number of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction which can, at worst, be life-threatening) rose by 615%, while incidence of conditions like allergic rhinitis and eczema has trebled over the last 30 years.

 

As we at talkhealth know all too well, allergic conditions can have hugely detrimental effects on an individual’s quality of life. The care and insight offered by specialists can be essential to allowing people to manage their allergic conditions; and such care and support can in fact prove cost-effective, since it can alleviate the demand on medical services that improperly treated illnesses often generate.

 

talkhealth Director, Catriona Williams, at the NASG reception

talkhealth Director, Catriona Williams – image courtesy of Tim Hewage photography and the NASG

This, essentially, is what the NASG are campaigning for: to address the lack of allergy expertise at all levels of the NHS by striving for alterations in the curriculum for doctors in training, specialist training for existing GPs and practice nurses, increasing funding for specialist positions, and greater overall allergy strategy among the medical profession.

 
This is all good news for allergy sufferers. The campaign, it is hoped, will result in speedier and more reliable diagnosis (the diagnostic delay for some allergic conditions is as high as four years), improved care including easier access to specialists, and an improved body of information for allergy sufferers and their doctors about their conditions.

 
If you’re an allergy sufferer, make sure to look at NASG’s website to find out more about their campaign. We’d also love to hear your thoughts on the state of allergy care where you live in the comments section below.

  

talkhealth

This is the talkhealth blog spot, where we post on a wide range of health conditions, topics, issues and concerns. We post when we see something that we believe is of interest to our vistiors. Our posts do not reflect any particular view or stand point of talkhealth, but are merely to raise attention and awareness.

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