Dozens of allergy admissions recorded at Bedford Hospital
Though the number is down on the previous year
Dozens of hospital admissions linked to allergies were recorded at the Bedford Hospital Trust in 2019-20, figures reveal.
NHS Digital data shows there were at least 36 admission episodes with a primary diagnosis of allergies at Bedford Hospital NHS Trust that year – the latest full year’s worth of figures.
That was compared to around 35 in 2015-16 – the earliest year for which data was available – and around 45 in 2018-19.
The figures count a patient’s first period of care under a consultant, and include admissions for allergies related to food, pollen and cosmetics, among other things.
The exact number for 2019-20 is not known because the totals for certain patient groups were suppressed to maintain confidentiality.
Nationally, around 30,400 admission episodes were recorded – a big increase from 20,700 in 2015-16.
“As lockdown restrictions ease, if you or your friends or family have a food allergy, it’s important to never be complacent,” said a spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is responsible for food safety and hygiene.
“Remember to be allergy aware and speak to restaurants about food allergies every time you order, because ingredients, recipes and staff can change.”
The figures also show there were at least 26 admission episodes with a primary diagnosis of anaphylactic shock at the Bedford Hospital Trust in 2019-20 – compared to around 25 in 2015-16.
Anaphylactic shock happens when someone has a severe and potentially life-threatening immune reaction to a trigger, which is often an allergy.
There were around 5,500 admission episodes linked to anaphylactic shock across England in 2019-20, which was slightly down from the previous year but up from 4,500 in 2015-16.
Amena Warner head of clinical services for Allergy UK, said the rising number of hospital admissions for allergies and anaphylactic shock was a “huge concern”.
She added: “If this isn’t brought under control we’re going to have a huge problem, because in some cases allergic reactions can be fatal.”
The exact reasons why allergies are on the rise are not known, said Ms Warner, but she added that people’s gut health could be a factor, as well as genetic influences.
New regulations – due to come into force in October – will require businesses preparing pre-packed food for direct sale on their premises to include a full ingredients list on an item’s label.
Named Natasha’s Law, this followed the case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette.
But Ms Warner said people still need to understand the risks in the first place so they can make an informed choice, adding: “There needs to be much more education about allergies for the general public.”
The FSA spokeswoman said that, although hospital admissions for food-induced anaphylaxis rose in the two decades to 2018, the fatality rate for such admissions more than halved over the period.