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Mothers whose daughters died call for national allergy tsar

Two mothers whose daughters died from severe allergic reactions have written to the Health Secretary calling for a national allergy tsar.

Tanya Ednan-Laperouse and Emma Turay have told Steve Barclay that their daughters’ deaths “were entirely preventable” and urged the Government to appoint a leader “to act as a champion for people with allergies”.

It comes as MPs are set to debate two allergy petitions, including one calling for the tsar, on Monday afternoon in Westminster Hall.

The women wrote to Mr Barclay saying they were renewing their calls after receiving no response from previous health secretaries.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, from Fulham, west London, died in July 2016 following a severe allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette sandwich containing sesame.

Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse
Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, the parents of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse (Yui Mok/PA)

Following her death, the law was changed to require all food outlets to provide a full ingredients list and allergy labelling on food pre-packaged for direct sale.

Shante Turay-Thomas, 18, died following a severe allergic reaction to eating a hazelnut.

A coroner ruled she died in part because of human error, with failures meaning that an ambulance took more than 40 minutes to arrive at her home in Wood Green, north London.

In the letter to Mr Barclay, the two parents said: “As mothers, we have come together for change so that our tragedies never happen again.

“Over two years ago, we wrote to both your predecessors on the need for an allergy tsar.

“Unfortunately, I still haven’t heard anything from the Government on your position on a national lead for people living with allergies.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse inquest
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, from Fulham, west London, with her father Nadim (Family handout/PA)

“No single person has overall responsibility for the well-being of allergy sufferers in either Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England or anywhere else.

“There are no clear lines of accountability in relation to overall NHS provision of allergy care, nor for the many other areas where policy change is required.

“This lack of national leadership has been raised time and again by coroners at the inquests of those who died following severe allergic reactions.

“It was raised at the inquest of my daughter, Shante. The coroner highlighted the fact that ‘there is no person with named accountability for allergy services and allergy provision at NHS England or the Department of Health as a whole’.

“The coroner stated: ‘There is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken’.”

The letter to Mr Barclay said the tsar would act as an advocate to increase the number of specialist allergy clinics and “to better align primary care and hospital allergy services so that patients have a coherent NHS care pathway”.

It added: “The tsar, as the national lead, will ensure people with allergies receive proper support and joined-up health care to prevent avoidable deaths and ill health.”

The tsar could also ensure all acute anaphylaxis cases are treated as a category 1 incident (the most urgent) by NHS ambulance services.

The letter added the “number of people living with allergic disease is mushrooming”.

The call for an allergy tsar is supported by the National Allergy Strategy Group and charities Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis UK.

A Government spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the families of Shanté Turay-Thomas and Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

“We have taken action to address the challenges people with allergies face by introducing a new legal requirement for food retailers and operators to display full ingredient and allergen labelling information on every food item they sell pre-packed for direct sale.

“Clinical advice and leadership on food allergies is provided by the clinical reference group for specialised allergy and immunology services, led by NHS England.”