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Andy experiences a bad reaction after reading a report by MPs

Why has incidence of allergies risen so dramatically in the past 15 years? Just for example, in 1990 peanut allergy was hardly recognised, now nearly one in 70 children are affected.

The figures as a whole have been rising with three in 10 adults now affected ­ equating to 15 million sufferers nationwide. This is said to cost the NHS

£1 billion a year. Given that there are only six specialist centres in the UK, it must be well paid.

This was highlighted last year by a health select committee which listed the problems as: 'Lack of specialists, poor access to services and ignorant GPs.' The report went on to say: 'Most GPs have little or no training in allergy and often fail to diagnose allergy properly or refer it to an appropriate specialist.'

It's a bit obtuse to criticise GPs for failing to refer in a climate where referrals are triaged, filtered and deemed inappropriate on an increasing basis. In any case, allergy sufferers north of Leicester face a journey that would cause enough toxic emissions to create more punters for the clinic. Obviously the select committee thinks GPs 'up North' don't do enough creative writing ­ they should now feel reassured to refer patients to services that don't exist.

Holy Grail treatment?

But not to worry. The report suggests that years of drugs are unnecessary as two visits to an allergist will cure the problem. We all know that with private referral it takes 26 appointments to assess an allergy. The range of options is endless. Locally we have a RAST blood test. It's fantastic. You write on the referral card what you think the patient is allergic to and they write back to tell you you're right. I was under the impression the desensitisation was more likely to cause anaphylaxis than cure the problem. I suppose if you're dead you no longer have an allergy.

Recently, feeling a bit guilty, I sent my wife to a talk on paediatric allergy. Fortunately she's a GP. I always ask what she will do differently following the talk. Surely there must be some missing Holy Grail treatment I have been withholding. Alas no. It's not revolutionary, but apparently soya milk is to be added to the waste-of-time list and anyone with house dust mite allergies must freeze their pillow and bedclothes!

So thank goodness for those MPs. I was about to refer all my uncontrolled epileptics to see a neurologist. Perhaps I can bulk-refer all allergy sufferers to the specialist clinic in the same envelope. If they get cracking they could be seen by Christmas 2016!

Andy experiences a bad reaction after reading a report by MPs

Dr Andy Jones is a GP in Stamford, Lincolnshire

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