Amelia Nathan Hill

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Caroline Richmond [Obituaries, 4 October] demonstrates only too clearly what Amelia Nathan Hill, in two decades of campaigning for those made chronically ill through allergy or allergy-related illness, was up against, writes Patricia Schooling.

In the early 1980s it was as Ms Richmond describes: an immediate assumption that many symptoms troubling the patient were a figment of the imagination. "It's all in the mind" or "You'll have to learn to live with it" were common responses. Fortunately it is becoming less common for the GP to have such an ignorant attitude, although our postbag at Action Against Allergy confirms it does still exist.

One of the problems is that so many allergic symptoms are similar to those presented in other forms of illness. When those other causes have been ruled out it takes an open-minded doctor to consider the possibility of allergic response. Yet allergies have been labelled the No 1 environmental disease by the World Health Organisation and anyone who has checked in for a hospital bed in recent years will know that one of the first questions asked is "Do you have any allergies?"

Amelia Nathan Hill was fortunate in finding help through an elimination diet (now widely practised by allergy specialists). As a severe multi- allergic, it wasn't only food which caused her problems. She was also made ill by chemicals, especially perfume, which was the reason she was unable to mix with others who might be wearing it (and why she was given a separate green room at Granada TV).

I worked for Amelia for some 15 years and she was far from being a psychiatric case. Indeed, her mind was as sharp as ever, right up to the end. Her chief objective was to see diagnosis and treatment available to everyone on the National Health Service. As she said, "I want there to be no need for AAA."