Allergy

Allergists are doctors who treat individuals affected by abnormal immunological responses to substances taken into the body. They provide both active intervention and allergen avoidance for sufferers.

This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.

Doctor and nurse at PC

Nature of the work

Allergic disorders are wide ranging including anaphylactic shock, respiratory allergy, skin allergy, food allergy, drug allergy and allergy to latex rubber and venom. Specialists deal with conditions that range from mild to life-threatening.

Some people have allergic responses if one or more of the following are ingested through the lungs (eg extrinsic allergic alveolitis), the skin (eg eczema, contact dermatitis), the stomach or mucous membranes such as the lining of the eye:

  • pollen
  • house-dust mite faeces
  • the saliva and skin of pets
  • mould spores
  • bee and wasp venom
  • milk
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • food additives
  • antibiotics

Allergists treat conditions such as:

“We deal with conditions involving almost every part of human body, literally from heads to toes” Dr Joanna Lukawska Consultant in allergy medicine Guy's hospital London.

Read Joanna’s story

Common procedures and interventions

Common procedures and interventions include:

  • skin prick, RAST (blood), patch and food tests to identify what is triggering the individual’s allergy
  • desensitisation treatments
  • corticosteroid treatments to suppress allergic reactions such as vasculitis (chronic inflammation of the blood vessels)
  • prescription of antihistamines to treat urticaria (skin rashes)
  • injection of adrenaline to treat anaphylaxis (an immediate and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • treatment of allergic rhinitis with antihistamine drugs
  • intramuscular adrenaline and antihistamine treatment for angio-oedema (build-up of fluid beneath the skin)
  • lung x-rays, blood tests and lung function tests to assist in the diagnosis of extrinsic allergic alveolitis (resulting from prolonged exposure to animal and vegetable dusts)

Sub-specialties

It is possible to sub-specialise in adult or paediatric allergy medicine.

Find out more about:

  • This section provides useful information about the pay for junior doctors (doctors in training), specialty doctors, consultants and general practitioners.

    Find out more about the current pay scales for doctors, and there's more information on the BMA website.

    NHS employers provides useful advice and guidance on all NHS pay, contracts terms and conditions.

    Medical staff working in private sector hospitals, the armed services or abroad will be paid on different scales.

  • Read about consultant and non-consultant roles in allergy, flexible working and about wider opportunities.

    Consultant roles

    You can apply for consultant roles six months prior to achieving your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). You will receive your CCT at the end of your allergy training.

    Managerial opportunities for consultants include:

    • clinical lead - lead NHS consultant for the team
    • clinical director - lead NHS consultant for the department
    • medical director - lead NHS consultant for the Trust

    Most NHS consultants will be involved with clinical and educational supervision of junior doctors.

    Here are some examples of education and training opportunities:

    • director of medical education - the NHS consultant appointed to the hospital board who is responsible for the postgraduate medical training in a hospital. They work with the postgraduate dean to make sure training meets GMC standards.
    • training programme director - the NHS consultant overseeing the education of the local cohort of trainee doctors eg foundation training programme director. This role will be working within the LETB/deanery
    • associate dean - the NHS consultant responsible for management of the entirety of a training programme. This role will be also be working within the LETB/deanery

    SAS doctor roles

    There are also opportunities to work at non-consultant level, for example as a SAS (Specialist and Associate Specialist) doctor. SAS doctors are non-training roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, two of those being in a relevant specialty. Find out more about SAS doctors roles.

    Other non-training grade roles

    These roles include:

    • trust grade
    • clinical fellows

    Flexible working

    This specialty is highly suitable for flexible training, and allergy training is enjoyably varied.

    Academic pathways

    If you have trained on an academic allergy pathway or are interested in research there are opportunities in academic medicine.

    For those with a particular interest in research, you may wish to consider an academic career in allergy. Whilst not essential, some doctors start their career with an Academic Foundation post. This enables them to develop skills in research and teaching alongside the basic competences in the foundation curriculum.

    Entry into an academic career would usually start with an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) and may progress to a Clinical Lectureship (CL). Alternatively some trainees that begin with an ACF post then continue as an ST trainee on the clinical programme post-ST4.

    Applications for entry into Academic Clinical Fellow posts are coordinated by the National Institute for Health Research Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHRTCC).

    There are also numerous opportunities for trainees to undertake research outside of the ACF/CL route, as part of planned time out of their training programme. Find out more about academic medicine.

    The Clinical Research Network (CRN) actively encourages all doctors to take part in clinical research.

  • This page provides useful information about the availability of jobs, finding vacancies and where to find out more.

    Job market information

    Allergic disorders are on the increase, including a rise in co-morbidity (multiple expressions of allergy in the same patient) and the complexity and severity of diseases. This has created a greater need for allergists.

    NHS Digital regularly publish workforce statistics which show the number of full time equivalent consultants and doctors in training for each specialty: NHS Digital workforce statistics

    Competition ratios for medical specialty training places are published on Health Education England's specialty training webpage.  

    The shortage of allergy posts means that consultants from other specialties work in allergy as well including immunologists, dermatologists, clinical pharmacologists and respiratory medicine specialists.

    Allergy specialists who work with adults may in some cases also see children; but paediatric allergy is evolving as a separate subspecialty with a number of training and consultancy posts.

    Less than whole-time working is common in this specialty. 

    On this section we have information for England only. For information regarding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland please click on the links below.

    NHS Scotland medical and dental workforce data

    NHS Wales medical and dental workforce data

    Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety workforce information for Northern Ireland

    Where to look for vacancies

    All candidates apply through the online application system Oriel.

    All jobs will be advertised on NHS Jobs.

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