Key Messages - What are the problems?
- Allergy is the cause of an enormous amount of disease
- Millions of people are affected, about 7 million with more severe problems; there is a large burden to the patient and to the NHS.
- There is a lack of expertise in allergy right across the NHS
- Most doctors just don't know, or know little, about allergy; there is a lack of expertise in hospitals and a lack of knowledge or understanding of allergy in primary care.
- This means that very large numbers of patients are being seen by a doctor who has little understanding of their disease.
- There is only a small number of full specialists in allergy
- Allergy is not taken seriously or recognised in NHS service planning
- This means the NHS is not commissioning (purchasing) good quality services for allergy patients. Most commissioners do not realise that allergy is a separate specialty or how much disease in their population is caused by allergy
- Despite recommendations in national reviews, there is still no serious attempt to increase the NHS workforce who are competent in allergy. There are only a small number of consultants in allergy. More are needed to support and educate GPs as well as providing specialist services.
- Because few patients get an accurate allergy diagnosis, the NHS has no count of how much allergy there is.
What is the result
- Poor quality care
- Wasted resources. NHS money is being wasted, treating patients badly, not identifying the allergy, allowing continued illness and not solving the problem
- The problem will get bigger because we lack trainee allergists.
Way forward... first steps
It is vital to have more doctors who have some understanding of allergy
The specialty of allergy needs to grow – we need to train more doctors as specialists in allergy, and create more posts for consultant allergists
GPs need to have better awareness of allergy.