THE team behind an 'innovative' project to improve the care of infants with a suspected cows' milk protein allergy has been shortlisted for an award.

Healthcare providers in Bury are among those behind an initiative which has almost halved the prescribing costs for infants with the allergy, from £232,000 14 months ago to £122,000.

Changes have led to "more appropriate referrals", with waiting times for community paediatric dietetic services dropping from more than 20 weeks to four weeks.

The project was launched to address the concerns of families with children who may have cows' milk protein allergy (CMPA) — which typically develops when cows' milk is introduced to a baby's diet, either in formula or when they begin eating solids.

The three teams behind the initiative, which have been shortlisted, are: NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Bury and Rochdale Care Organisation and the North West Paediatric Allergy and Infection Network.

Angela Gilchrist, Medicines Optimisation Technician and project lead for Bury CCG, said: “When we first started this project, our aim was to speed up diagnosis, get infants on the correct product and reduce waiting times when an infant does need to see a community dietitian. Not only have we achieved all of this, we have also improved the experience and access to support for the parents and their children too."

Cows' milk allergy is estimated to affect seven per cent of babies under one, according to NHS England, and it can cause symptoms such as skin reactions, digestive problems and eczema.

As part of the trial, health visitors have been helping to determine whether a child has CMPA, and therefore whether they will require a review.

When the project began, 202 children were receiving milk products on prescription. The review found that 40 had either outgrown or no longer had an allergy, 43 needed a further review by a dietitian and nine needed different formulas.

Ms Gilchrist said: "Bury CCG is trailblazing across the North West and leading the way. The North West Paediatric Allergy and Infection Network is introducing the pathway to our counterparts across the region to show what can be achieved within their own organisations. Our aspiration is to see the pathway become standard practice across the country."

The team has been named as finalists for an HSJ (Health Service Journal) Award in the 'Community or Primary Care Service Redesign' category.

HSJ editor Alistair Mclellan said: “We would like to congratulate Bury CCG, Bury and Rochdale Care Organisation, and the North West Paediatric Allergy and Infection Network on being finalists in this year’s 2019 HSJ awards.

“The entrants this year have been of incredible calibre, and each of the finalists in this category have been chosen based on their outstanding commitment to excellence in healthcare.”

Winners will be selected ahead of an awards ceremony at the Battersea Evolution Centre in London on November 6.