99 year old allergy specialist doctor nearing 100th birthday and still practicing!

This week I found out about a pretty amazing man and I can’t believe I haven’t heard of Dr Bill Frankland before. He was on the One Show on Tuesday 28th February and at 99 years old he is still practicing as a doctor at St Mary’s hospital in London, what an inspiration! Not just because he’s nearing his 100th birthday and still working, but Dr Frankland has pioneered allergy treatment and even invented the pollen count scale.

Dr Bill Frankland

Dr Bill Frankland in 2011. Source: Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol - 2011 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

Dr Frankland was born in 1912 and was lucky enough to work with Sir Alexander Fleming who he says was a ‘marvelous man’ but they did have a minor disagreement. Dr Frankland felt that repeated and increased prescription of penicillin and other drugs would lead to more sensitivities and allergies in the future. Something Sir Alexander Fleming felt was not a concern, but Bill does feel now that looking back he was right.

Allergies are not a modern affliction as we’re often led to believe. How many times have you heard that old chestnut, “Oh they didn’t have allergies in my day”? Well actually, they did! Allergies have been around for hundreds of years but or whatever reason,and that’s a whole other conversation for another day, they are far more prevalent today and still on the increase.

We pioneered and invented Immunotherapy in this country (Read one of my previous posts, Bring back immunotherapy for allergies”) and doctors like Dr Bill Frankland have been treating people with allergies for many years. Bill saw the rise in allergies beginning back at the beginning of his career and it’s still on the increase, clearly something we should have seen coming.

He also said that whilst the UK is leading the field in research into allergies, why they occur, what causes them and how to treat them, many younger GPs are pitifully uneducated in the correct protocol for either treating or referring patients who display signs of allergies. It’s not surprising however when so many hundreds of research papers are written every year, there isn’t time to study them all and probably not even enough time to scan the summaries of these reports. So what is the answer?

I think it’s quite simple. We just need more specialist allergy doctors, like Dr Bill Frankland, and simple guidelines for spotting the early signs of allergies and referring patients for the correct treatment. By ignoring allergies and treating the symptoms, too late, with drugs rather than trying to prevent them, we now have an epidemic on our hands.

Why can’t we bring back immunotherapy too please while we’re at it? Now that would be amazing. I know it’s slowly creeping back in some counties, but at the moment it’s not widely available and currently only offered to those with really severe allergies. Meanwhile the rest are getting progressively worse with poor or no treatment.

Thank you Dr Bill Frankland for your dedication and commitment to understanding, researching and treating allergies. He even injected himself with various insect venom to try to simulate an allergic reaction so he could understand what it was like. He was successful and luckily a nurse where he worked administered adrenalin and he survived! He described the sudden decrease in blood pressure and feeling of impending doom and feels he was better able to understand his patients for having that experience.

He celebrates his 100th birthday on the 19th March. I’m going to send him a birthday card and hopefully so will the queen!

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Eileen Tottman says:

    This man is amazing.
    What can be done for babies born with eczema? Can he help? We see quite a few within our child health baby clinics.

    • He is really cool isn’t he? I wish I could meet him. Babies with eczema can grow out of it quite quickly, but there could be so many reasons that cause it. It’s really hard to say how to help without looking at each circumstance. I’m not a doctor so probably not qualified to comment but I’d look first at things like bedding and washing powder. Sometimes harsh biological powders can irritate their skin. Lactose intolerance can also be very comment. A qualified dietician would be able to advise how to test, diagnose and possibly reintroduce when they’re a bit better and better able to digest the milk. It’s so horrible seeing babies and small children with eczema. They don’t know not to scratch and it must drive them mad.

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