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Comment: Resources are available to provide optimal care

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A great deal is known about the pathophysiology of allergy and we also know that the incidence of allergic disease is rising in the UK. But there is little focus in nursing pre-registration training on the diseases caused through allergy. The result is that patients can experience distress and reduction of quality of life, as well as asthma and even death caused by anaphylaxis.

At a conference I remember an eminent Canadian allergist suggested that in the UK we undertake the best research in allergy in the world and yet our patients are treated badly. Many clinicians seem to underestimate the misery that allergy causes to patients.

There is no excuse for health professionals not to receive the education, training and support they need to give the best care to their patients. The Primary Care Allergy Network (PCAN) was formed to provide support, advice and advocacy for all clinicians working within primary care (www.pcan-uk.org).

Allergy UK is a charity offering information, support and advice to people with allergic disease. Among the services it offers are fact sheets, which can be downloaded from its website (www.allergyuk.org), a telephone advice line and a useful translation card service for those with allergies who are travelling abroad. The charity also offers an online university-accredited diploma in allergy.

Education for Health is a charitable organisation that offers a range of allergy education. This includes one-day courses covering topics such as asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR), food allergy and anaphylaxis to more comprehensive distance-learning modules (www.educationforhealth.org.uk).

Respiratory Education UK runs half-day programmes, ‘Sneeze and Wheeze’ days, designed to raise awareness of the relationship between asthma and AR. The content reviews the aetiology, pathophysiology and morbidity of asthma and AR, and reviews treatment options (www.respiratoryeduk.com).

When excellent education and support is available, patients should not receive poor care. Our patients deserve far better care than they are receiving. NT’s online allergy series, launched in this week’s Respiratory Nursing, is a welcome addition to the resources available to nurses who need to explore this issue in more detail.

Sue Cross BSc, PGCE, FAANP, NP Dip, RN is national project manager, Working in Partnership Programme and general practice nursing initiative asthma and allergy nurse, Biggleswade Health Centre, Bedfordshire.

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