Immunology and Allergy
The Department of Clinical Immunology is a Peninsula-wide service covering Devon and Cornwall and was established at Derriford Hospital UHPNT, in January 1996 with one consultant and one, part-time specialist nurse. Since this time, the department has expanded dramatically and from January 2011 has been situated on the Eden Unit, level 7. There are now 3 consultants with two specialist registrars in training. The medical team is complemented by two GPs who support the allergy work. The nursing team comprises a Consultant Practitioner, two Specialist nurses – one for Immune deficiency and one for Allergy – and 4 (3WTE) registered nurses. They are supported by a B2 HCA. The department is fortunate enough to have a specialist allergy dietician for 2 days/week and the clinical scientists support MDT. There are two medical secretaries and 2 admin support staff under the speciality co-ordinator. Plans are in place to expand the Team. The Team are active in research supported by the Trust R&D department with both commercial trials and in-house projects. The Immunodeficiency service holds Accredited status with the Royal College of Physicians ‘Quality in Primary Immune Deficiency Services’ (QPIDS) and the Allergy service is likewise accredited with the RCP ‘Improving Quality in Allergy Services’ (IQAS).
The Immunology Clinic accepts referrals for diagnosis and assessment of adults from the age of 16 who have a suspected immunodeficiency and follow-up of adults with confirmed immunodeficiency. We provide diagnosis and management of patients with hereditary and acquired angioedema, including home therapy training. We also provide home therapy training for adults needing immunoglobulin replacement therapy. Adults affected by a variety of other disorders are managed by the Immunology team, often in conjunction with other specialists. We hold joint clinics with several related sub-specialties and also outreach clinics. The Immunology department has well-established links with our paediatric team at Derriford and also Bristol to provide a good, safe and effective transition to adult services.
Our infusion clinics are nurse-led treating those patients requiring treatment (replacement and immunomodulatory) with immunoglobulin. In addition to this clinic, the Specialist Nurse runs home therapy training sessions for those patients willing and eligible to learn to self- infuse at home.
We maintain strong links with colleagues in the region's General and Community Hospitals and provide advice and support for those patients wishing to have their treatment closer to home. The initial infusions are delivered on the Eden Unit prior to transferring to another suitable unit at a local hospital.
Allergy work on the Eden Unit encompasses a range of investigations and requires a careful and methodical approach. We are a small team and work very closely together to ensure our patients are safe and supported.
We care for patients who have a variety of conditions including allergies to pollen, house dust mite, bee or wasp venom, food or drugs. We also see oral allergy syndrome, chronic spontaneous urticaria, and mastocytosis. The nurses perform skin prick testing, intradermal testing, patch testing, and adrenaline auto-injector training. We are responsible for safely managing allergy challenges and desensitisation to venom, pollen, and drugs.
Our patients are frequently anxious and we gain great satisfaction from reassuring and encouraging them as they undertake the tests and procedures they require. The conditions we see are sometimes incapacitating physically and psychologically for our patients and it is extremely rewarding to see them able to return to a normal quality of life with the treatments and advice we are able to offer.