Yesterday I went to my niece’s birthday party and met one of my sister’s friends and neighbour, he was a nice guy with a young daughter of 4. She had not been well this last month and had been to the doctors on several occasions and had just received antibiotics over and over again for swelling of the face. He thinks she has a dairy allergy, but his doctor would not entertain putting them for a referral for blood tests, even though she also has asthma which is an indicator for having other atopic diseases.
We had a long discussion and I had a look at her and I said I thought it was either an allergy to something (as they also had a dog and a cat) or hayfever, or a combination of both which had really knocked her out. The upshot of which was that she had some over the counter anti-histamines and was feeling better within half an hour.
So is this the state of the NHS, getting advice from others with similar problems at parties and on Facebook pages – it seems so.
I took to the CAN (Children’s Allergy Network) group on Facebook and had a rant about GPs not referring children when we think they should and mentioned half-jokingly that I should start an e-petition. I got a couple of responses of ‘I would sign that’, as there have been a few parents who have struggled with getting a referral to allergists. More worryingly there were people who have been referred but have had to wait a ridiculous amount of time before getting their appointment.
So last night I thought, oh my God, I am actually going to do this, and it sounds like a lot of work!
First I read some e-petitions in the Health Section of the site, http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ and some of them were crazy, for example, ‘Stop garlic being put in most of our food products’.
Then I decided to look for advice on how to write a successful e-petition and came across this report, file:///home/chronos/user/Downloads/What%20next%20for%20e-petitions.pdf. It seems that there is little point in starting an e-petition, even if it were to reach 100,000 signatures, which I think would be unlikely due to poor awareness of allergies and related conditions, it may not even be discussed in the House of Commons even if it is championed by an MP.
OK, I thought, more ideas, how about a letter writing campaign to our MPs with regards to our issues and see if we can take things forward from there. I recently joined Asthma UK’s most recent awareness campaign, http://www.asthma.org.uk/campaign, which was an automated e-mail which was then sent to my MP and I thought that was something that I could promote.
This morning I spoke to a friend who works with MPs every day and he asked a couple on my behalf what makes a letter stand out for them. The answer was the letter should be short and to the point, with a clear idea of what changes could be made. They also said that a more personal touch was better, either meeting the child in question at one of their surgeries or photos of the child suffering from a reaction. Another said they really would take a personal interest in a case if an issue had been originally raised with the government department in question, the Department of Health in this instance but they had not provided an adequate response.
So I felt like I was going round and round in ever decreasing circles until I decided maybe I should just back the campaigns of others with similar problems and ideas and this is where I currently stand.
You can show support by entering your postcode and sending an e-mail to your MP.
http://www.nasguk.org/getinvolved – National Allergy Strategy Group UK
You can show support by following them on Twitter, following them on Facebook and downloading one of their postcards to post or e-mail to your MP.
They are running an appeal for more allergy nurses to be trained as in theory once diagnosed many conditions can be managed in the community. You can show support on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by blogging and spreading the word.
So this is where I stand, 24 hours later, supporting and promoting the campaigns of larger organisations, I hope you can find the time to support them too.