In July of 2022, having been a founding member of National Allergy Strategy Group (NASG) 20 years ago, Dr Pamela Ewan stepped down as our Chair. I would like to thank Dr Ewan for her many years of dedicated service, advocating for improvements in NHS service provision, and the many concrete gains she has achieved. Thankfully, Pam will remain involved in the NASG as its President, joining Prof Sir Stephen Holgate who is now NASG Patron. These are non-voting, advisory roles. I would also like to thank Mandy East, who provided the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in allergy as Parliamentary Officer since 2007, for her enormous contributions, following her step down in June this year.
My first role as incoming chair has been to re-visit the Terms of Reference of the collaboration between BSACI and the two national allergy charities that form the NASG – Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis UK (formerly Anaphylaxis Campaign). These had not been changed since the NASG was first established and were focused exclusively around lobbying for NHS services. As times have changed, there is wider recognition that improving the life of people who suffer from allergies means there is lobbying to be done across a much broader range of areas of government policy such as education, food safety and transport. Both professional societies and charities all have a role to play here. There is also a role for more stakeholders to be part of this conversation and the new terms of reference will make provision for this.
We have continued to have meetings with policy makers at the DHSC, but due to the many changes in leadership, concrete progress has been frustratingly limited. However, this is a long game and quick wins will be infrequent. We continue to lobby health ministers including Dr Caroline Johnson MP, recently appointed as a junior health minister and a consultant pediatrician herself. Our key aims remain to build on the recommendations laid out in our 2021 report – ‘Meeting the Challenges of the National Allergy Crisis’, with the focus of representation for Allergy at a high level of the DHSC and the development of a National Allergy Strategy.
Chair – National Allergy Strategy Group (NASG)