Add allergy to quality framework

Quality points for allergy should be added to the quality framework indicator for asthma to help tackle the rise in allergies, a leading GPSI in the area has suggested.

The number of people suffering from allergic reactions in the UK has trebled in the past 20 years, with a third of the population estimated to suffer from allergy at some point.

But a report by The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee has warned that GPs are not sufficiently trained in allergy to be able to provide an accurate diagnosis, and some do not know when and to whom to refer allergy cases.

Dr Mark Levy, a GP in Middlesex with an interest in allergy who submitted evidence to the report, believes that there is a lack of incentives to encourage GPs to undergo training in allergy.

The asthma indicator in the quality framework is worth 45 points, but allergy is not incorporated into this, or elsewhere in the framework, said Dr Levy in his submission.

Proposals to include allergy into the quality indicator for asthma were unsuccessfully put forward for the past round of quality framework negotiations, he added.

The report blames the lack of recognition of allergy in primary care on minimal training of healthcare staff.

Dr Levy, who was previously the only GPSI in allergy in England, said if this general lack of knowledge is to beaten, some GPs need to be specially trained to deal with allergies.

Dr Pamela Ewan, co-founder of the National Allergy Strategy Group, said it was more important to raise allergy knowledge by a small amount among all GPs than to train a few allergy GPSIs.

'GPs will see lots of patients with allergies on a daily basis and should be able to deal with it,' she explained.

It was important to incentivise GPs to treat allergies and to increase the amount of allergy teaching that went into medical training, added Dr Ewan.

A spokeswoman for the charity Allergy UK said: 'We feel that an opportunity has been missed regarding education and incentives to be made which would have strengthened the service that well-trained primary care professionals could deliver for allergy sufferers.'

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