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GPs criticise Government plans for allergy services

GPs have criticised the Government for failing to invest in allergy services after a Department of Health report admitted severe failings in current services – but failed to commit to new funding.

The department's Review of Allergy Services instead put the onus on PCTs to use 'local commissioners to establish levels of need in their health communities'.

But GP allergy experts labelled the strategy 'unrealistic' and unlikely to be implemented after a survey by the charity Allergy UK revealed PCTs lacked funds to prioritise allergy care.

The review found that although three million patients visited their GP over allergies, most found it difficult to gain help and effective treatment.

Patients faced waiting times of up to nine months to see a consultant only to then be passed around different departments, the review admitted.

But Dr Samantha Walker, co-chair of the Primary Care Allergy Network and a GP in Harrow, Middlesex, said the report did nothing to put allergy care on the right track.

'There is no commitment in funding from the Department of Health, so unless new targets are weaved into the QOF the incentive for GPs is poor,' she said.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, professor of primary care research and development at the University of Edinburgh, added: 'Allergy service has never been prioritised and as a result the sit- uation is a mess and patchy.

'With no formal targets it is unlikely that local commissioning will be implemented as PCTs are being pulled harder from other directions.'

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