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Charity Fights Allergy Epidemic

Britain is facing windowan allergy epidemic made worse by poor resources within the NHS whichhas left sufferers feeling terrified and abandoned, the national charity, Allergy UK has revealed. This Allergy Awareness Week (22nd – 28th April), Allergy UK is taking action on behalf of millions of allergy sufferers to address this growing public health issue.

Allergy UK carried out national research [1] amongst allergy sufferers to assess their experiences of current allergy services. The research found many adult sufferers and parents of children with allergies are left to manage their allergies, some of which can be life threatening, with little advice, knowledge or support.

Although the research findings indicate that waiting times for an initial paediatric appointment has improved, sadly children have to wait between one and two years for a follow up appointment. This is a worryingly long time, particularly for those whose children have life-threatening allergies.

Sufferers who are able to access allergy services, report having to travel long distances to reach them. For many adult sufferers there are no allergy specialists available, and parents expressed real concern about the care their child will receive when they reach the age of 18. Allergy UK warns that with 50% of children in the UK suffering from allergy[2] this is a ticking time bomb for allergy services in the future.

The charity says better support is needed at Primary Care level for GPs, health visitors and practice nurses to help meet the growing demands of an increasingly complex disease. GPs are usually the first port of call when people experience allergic symptoms. Yet many GPs, health visitors and practice nurses do not have the time or specialised training required to undertake allergy consultations, which take at least 40 minutes per patient.

With the research highlighting sufferers’ desperate need for help and intervention, Allergy UK have today launched a nationwide fundraising appeal to raise £1million to provide specialist allergy nurses within communities across the UK. The charity is taking action after listening and responding to the voice of the allergy sufferer through its surveys, online forum and national helpline.

Allergy UK’s nurses will provide diagnosis for those suffering symptoms of allergy and will advise on treatment and management. They will ensure more complex cases are referred to the most appropriate specialist, where necessary. Patients who have seen an allergy specialist will receive advice and support during the long interval between appointments. Crucially, those admitted to their local A&E department due to an allergic reaction will receive fast track support and assistance from the Allergy UK nurse.

The nurses will help to support GPs to meet the challenge the current allergy epidemic is placing on them within an already overloaded Primary Care health system. They will play a vital role within the local community advising nurseries, schools and community groups on ways to ensure the safety of highly allergic children.

Without appropriate treatment, allergic asthma, rhinitis, eczema and food allergy, can lead to chronic ill health. Many are also at risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis unless managed correctly.

The research also revealed how the multi-organ disease, which affects almost half the population, is impacting on the quality of life of sufferers affecting their work, education and social life. The UK has the highest prevalence of allergy in Europe and ranks among highest in the world[3]. Allergic diseases have increased globally with 30-40% of the world population affected by one or more allergic conditions[4].

Allergy UK’s CEO, Jim Bennett said: “Allergy can be life-threatening so a lack of diagnosis and support is extremely frightening for sufferers. Allergy affects millions of people in the UK which has a severe impact upon their everyday lives and prolongs unnecessary suffering.   

“Allergy UK has listened to allergy sufferers. We believe having dedicated allergy nurses working within the community will provide a practical way forward. We’re leading the fight against allergy but we cannot do this on our own. We want people to join us and help to reach our £1million target, so we can make change happen.”

Allergy UK is the leading national charity providing advice, information and support to people with allergies and food intolerance. Allergy UK acts as the 'voice' of allergy sufferers, representing the views and needs of those affected by this multi organ disease.

Allergy UK makes a difference through a dedicated helpline and network for sufferers. The charity provides invaluable information and guidance to empower sufferers so that they can manage their symptoms and receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

This Allergy Awareness Week, Allergy UK is encouraging everyone to join in leading the fight against allergies. To get involved and receive a fundraising pack, visit: www.allergyuk.org or call 01322 619898. However large or small, your support really will make a difference.

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Notes to editors:

About Allergy UK:

Allergy UK is the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation; the leading national charity providing advice, information and support to people with allergies and food intolerance. Allergy UK acts as the 'voice' of allergy sufferers, representing the views and needs of those affected by this multi organ disease. Allergy UK is a certified member of The Information Standard, which is an independent certification scheme for health and social care information supported by the Department of Health. For further information and to see a list of all certified members to the scheme, please visit: www.theinformationstandard.org

Allergy UK makes a difference by:

  • Promoting wellbeing for people with allergy and food intolerance by providing information and support through our dedicated helpline
  • Empowering people with allergy and food intolerance  to manage their symptoms
  • Enabling people with allergy and food intolerance to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment through education of healthcare professionals and the provision of dedicated services
  • Educating corporate bodies in the need for products suitable for allergy and food intolerance sufferers
  • Conducting ongoing medical and social research into the causes and impact of allergy and food intolerance, and producing reports enabling us to lobby for better allergy services for sufferers.

[1] Research carried out by Allergy UK, January to March 2013 amongst 1960 allergy sufferers.

[2] Punekar Y.S. and Sheikh, A. Clin Exp Allergy (2009)

[3] Allergy: the Unmet Need (2003)

[4] The White Book on Allergy (2011)