By Lilian Anekwe
Experts have demanded urgent action by the Government, after draft NICE guidance recommended GPs refer more children with suspected food allergies to specialist services.
Last week NICE launched a consultation on new draft guidance on the diagnosis and management of food allergies in children.
It recommends GPs refer children with food allergy to secondary care ‘if the child has ongoing problems including faltering growth, vomiting, abdominal pain, loose or frequent stools, or constipation.'
But in a statement the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology said GPs would be unable to deal with children with food allergy effectively because of the scarcity of allergy specialists – leaving children at risk of being misdiagnosed.
Statistics show hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by 500% in the last twenty years, but GPs will lack services to refer children to without new investment from the Government, specialists argued.
‘Food allergies are increasing, but many children still do not have access to an allergy diagnosis on the NHS and this results in families resorting to using unvalidated and inaccurate testing.
‘The overall picture is a gloomy one for millions of allergy sufferers in the UK, unless the Government increases the number of allergists and more allergy centres to improve access to care and reduce the geographical inequalities.'
Dr Nicola Brathwaite, consultant paediatric allergist at King's College hospital in London and a member of the BSACI council said: ‘The current lack of services continues to result in unnecessary cost to the already cash-strapped NHS in unchecked and ongoing diseases and in some cases misdiagnosis.
'This unnecessary cost could be significantly reduced by developing effective allergy services.'NICE guidance 'undermined by scarce allergy services' Pulse CPD