We are delighted to welcome Nicola Wilson, our new Clinical Psychologist, to the Immunology team. Nicola will be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Heartlands site, offering psychological support and talking therapies to help our patients in managing worries, stresses, and emotional challenges related to living with a condition affecting their immune system. If you’d like to speak to Nicola, just ask one of the Immunology team.
The Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology centre at UHB is officially world class after achieving prestigious international recognition.
The West Midlands Allergy and Immunology service at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust – in partnership with the Regional Severe Asthma Service, the Occupational Asthma Service and the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy and School of Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham – has been designated as a World Allergy Organisation (WAO) Centre of Excellence.
Read more about the award here. The WAO website has information about the award and a list of accredited centres around the world.
Sneezing – is it Hay Fever, or could it be a symptom of Covid-19?
Sneezing often happens with viral colds. It is not a common symptom of Covid-19, but it can occur. The tree pollen count is now rising fast, so lots of people are beginning to get symptoms. Can you tell the difference between Hay Fever due to tree pollen allergy and a viral infection?
If you have a high temperature it is not pollen allergy. Despite its name, Hay Fever does not give you a fever.
Taking an antihistamine will improve allergy symptoms quickly, so this is a simple way to check whether you could have an allergy. A steroid nose spray (e.g. beclomethasone or fluticasone) is also a very good treatment.
Itching is a prominent symptom in allergies, which doesn’t happen much with viral infections. So if you have itchy nose and eyes (in addition to feeling blocked up and streaming), that’s more likely to be Hay Fever.
A dry cough can occur with Hay Fever as well as with viral infections like Covid-19. Other symptoms like loss of sense of smell and feeling fluey can also occur with both conditions.
So it can be hard to tell the difference, but hopefully these simple tips will help. (By the way, the picture is a pollen grain, not a virus)
Following a thorough assessment and an inspection visit, the West Midlands Immunodeficiency Service was recently awarded full accreditation for the service it provides for children and adults with immunodeficiency and HAE.
A team from the Quality in Primary Immunodeficiency Services (QPIDS) scheme, part of the Royal College of Physicians accreditation unit, visited the service at Heartlands Hospital in October. They were full of praise for the service we provide for our patients with immune disorders. This provides us and our patients with reassurance of the quality of the service, and also helps ensure our continued commissioning as a specialised service.
The service was first accredited in 2012. This year the assessment was against new and rigorous independent standards, and we are only the third centre in the UK to be accredited to these. You can find out more about the QPIDS scheme here.
Some of our HAE patients and their families joined us on Saturday 17th September for a day of presentations, discussions and a chat over coffee and lunch.
The Heartlands team were joined by Laura Szutowicz from HAE UK, Dr Andrew Volans (A&E consultant from Scarborough) and Laura Dight (Dietician) for a wide-ranging programme.
We will post highlights of the day and more photos on the patient pages soon.
Members of the Immunology team helped to spread the word about Primary Immunodeficiency (PI) to mark World PI Week in April. The stand in our hospital health information area was well visited. The most popular leaflet was one helping people understand how their amazing immune system works.
About 30 staff attended a lunchtime drop-in hay fever clinic, delivered by the Allergy team during Allergy Awareness week. Allergy nurses and doctors provided a free assessment of symptoms and advice on how to get the most out of over-the-counter medications, together with other tips to help staff stay well during high pollen counts. Feedback was very positive, with most staff saying they will make big changes to how they manage their hay fever this year. Some staff thought that a short talk or presentation would be helpful so we’ll bear this in mind for next year.
ESID, the European Society for Imunodeficiency, will host their biennial meeting in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre in 2020.
Immunologists from Heartlands Hospital led the bid to bring the conference back to the UK for the first time in 30 years. This unique conference combines patient and nursing groups with a medical and scientific meeting, and is the largest Immunodeficiency congress in the world.
2020 will also mark the 50th anniversary of the first NHS Immunodeficiency Centre, founded at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital by Professor Ron Thompson, so we are planning to celebrate Birmingham’s proud record in immunodeficiency care and research.
The Allergy team is offering free advice to hay fever sufferers working at Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals and the Chest Clinic.
It may seem a bit early to be thinking about hay fever (although if you are allergic to tree pollens you may be getting symptoms already). Grass pollen counts don’t really get going until May, but people with severe hay fever need to be prepared for this beforehand.
Hospital staff can drop in to a free advice clinic on the following dates:
- Heartlands Tues 2nd May 12.00 – 13.15 outside lecture theatre
- Heartlands Wed 3rd May 12.00 – 13.15 outside lecture theatre
- Good Hope Thurs 4th May 13.00 – 14.00 main corridor outside X-ray
- Heartlands Friday 5th May 12.00 – 13.15 outside lecture theatre
- Chest Clinic Mon 8th May 12.45 – 13.30
“Patient-centered care is what you deliver”
“One of the most advanced comprehensive Allergy Services in the UK”
The compliments flowed when the West Midlands Allergy Centre was inspected by the IQAS team on the 14th September. In the first inspection of its kind in the UK, the allergy service at HEFT was awarded full accreditation for providing a safe, effective and evidence-based service.
Patient feedback was an important part of the assessment, and some patients came in person to give the inspectors their views on the service that they had from the allergy team.
Dr Krishna who leads the team said “I am delighted that the first allergy service has achieved IQAS accreditation following a stringent independent assessment by a very experienced team, and am pleased that it has been my centre to do this”.
You can see more details of the inspection at the IQAS website.