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Plea to improve allergy treatment

16th July 2007

Experts are calling on the government to tackle the "massive epidemic" of serious allergies as a report revealing a 24 per cent rise in the number of sufferers was made public.

A study of the 422 surgeries registered on the University of Nottingham's research electronic database found that 24 per cent of patients were diagnosed with at least one allergic disease in 2005, up from 19 per cent in 2001.

Pam Ewan, a consultant allergist at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, described the lack of provision as "startling".
"GPs are not well informed about allergy at all, but particularly about food allergy, and that is because they are not trained in it.
"So GPs have gained knowledge by self-learning or self-interest; then if a GP wishes to refer to a specialist he will have a problem because there is a very small number of these."
Both the Royal College of Physicians and the Department of Health have previously warned that there is a shortage of allergists.

A Department of Health spokesperson said that the government was working closely with local health services to help them improve allergy provision.

A House of Lords inquiry on allergies will publish its report later this month.