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Shortage of allergy specialists puts children at risk of misdiagnosis

Children suffering from food allergies are at risk of misdiagnosis due to a shortage of trained experts within the NHS, the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) has claimed.

The society is calling for increased numbers of NHS allergy specialists and allergy centres to help diagnose and treat children accurately, and it also criticised geographical inequalities in provision of services.

The number of people allergic to different foods continues to rise, affecting millions of people across the UK, but lack of access to dedicated NHS services is forcing many families to resort to unvalidated tests, the BSACI said.

Needless exclusion of foods with important nutritional value and failure to ensure safe avoidance of foodstuffs causing an allergy are two of the potential risks from such tests, the BSACI claimed.

Dr Nicola Brathwaite, from the BSACI, said: “There are guidelines and care pathways which have been developed and are of great value, but the requirement to delivering these is more allergy specialists.

“Allergists can enhance services directly but also act as a multiplier by supporting, educating and interacting with doctors and nurses in primary and secondary care who make a big contribution to allergy care.”

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