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What do I do if my GP dismisses my concerns and refuses to carry out any testing?

It is important to keep working with your GP, as he or she has a relationship with your whole family. Also the symptoms of food allergy can mimic many other conditions in infants so it can be difficult to diagnose, particularly if the reactions are not immediate and obvious. If it is your child, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a paediatrician at your local hospital.

A referral to a paediatrician (or Paediatric Allergy Clinic at Starship Hospital in Auckland) should always be made if your child has had an anaphylactic reaction. However, there is a waiting list and patients can self-refer to a private specialist (the list is here).

Food allergy is mainly a paediatric condition. General paediatric clinics can do initial testing and may refer on for more specialised help, for example to the Starship Allergy and Immunology Clinic at Auckland. This is to ensure the child's development is monitored through the time they are on a limited diet.

Adults who have had an anaphylactic reaction should always be referred to an allergy or immunology specialist. Adults with a suspected food allergy in the Auckland region can be referred to the Allergy Clinic (part of the Department of Virology and Immunology) at Auckland City Hospital. There are also immunology departments at Wellington and Christchurch hospitals.

Alternatively, there are a number of private allergy specialists.

There are gaps in other areas, although specialists from public hospitals can refer patients to a tertiary service in another region. So it is still worth getting your doctor to make a referral to a specialist (paediatric or general physician) at your local district health board. This will also help demonstrate the need for specialist services.

If you are unhappy with your quality of care, you can write to the Health and Disability Commissioner. Don’t be frightened to do this, as it will not get your doctor in trouble and will actually help with access to allergy services in the long run.