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Call for more specialist allergy GPs

By Ellie Broughton

Experts have called for more GPs to train as specialists in allergy, as new figures showed there were only 12 consultants for the 20 million patients in the UK with allergies.

The figures - revealed after a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson - show there were over 97,000 outpatient visits last year for just a dozen qualified allergy consultants in 2010.

Over 20 million people in the UK suffer from allergic disease, over a third of whom need to be referred to a specialist allergist, and experts claim the number of consultations is likely to rise.

Professor Helen Smith, RCGP clinical champion for allergies, said the work of the 12 specialist consultants was supported by consultants in other areas, such as dermatologists, but there was a real need for GPs to take CPD in the subject and train as GPSIs

'There's a qualified concern that patients are being under-served, but the issue is not just about training more consultant allergists. We need more training on all levels.'

In February, NICE published a number of recommendations to ensure better diagnosis and assessment of children with allergic conditions, seen by many as a response to the use of unvalidated DIY tests.

Ms Swinson said: 'Without the correct training and knowledge, many GPs and hospital doctors are not equipped to deal with this sometimes life-threatening ailment.'

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