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Allergy online resource launched to plug "serious" training gap

A free online tool has been launched to support GPs and nurses in dealing with “unusual or complex allergy cases” to combat a “serious lack of knowledge of allergy in the primary care sector”.

The eAllergy Helpdesk aims to reduce the number of patients who self-diagnose allergies or seek help from “unqualified sources”.

The tool, which will be staffed by allergy experts, aims to enable allergy cases to be “treated more effectively”.

It hopes to provide guidance on the selection and interpretation of allergy investigations, making a diagnosis, and managing patients in accordance with evidencebased guidelines.

Staff manning the eAllergy Helpdesk will aim to respond to allergy questions within 72 hours.

Leading the launch, GP and Professor of Primary Care at the Research and Development department of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Aziz Sheikh, said GPs and nurses operating in primary care “often lack the experience and training needed to confidently manage allergy cases”.

“Despite numerous published reports identifying gaps in allergy services, little has been done to address these and optimise patient care,” he said.

“This helpdesk has been carefully designed to provide quick and reliable evidence-based advice to support healthcare professionals in this setting.”

It is claimed recent surveys have highlighted a “serious lack of knowledge of allergy in the primary care sector”.

A survey of GPs by the National Allergy Strategy Group in 2008 found 74% felt they did not have the necessary skills or knowledge to treat allergy and 62% felt that they needed more allergyfocused education.

Only 14% had received any allergy education in the past year.

The eAllergy Helpdesk is available at