Pass the tissues and help hay fever sufferers

I remember my school exam days with dread ... a box of paper handkerchiefs, a nose red raw with sniffing, dark glasses and a "detached" feeling caused by the anti-histamine drugs. And if the paper handkerchiefs ran out ...

Yet I was expected to compete on an equal footing with my peers. In those days I thought being a hayfever sufferer was to be a freak, but times have changed.

I read recently that there are now about seven million hayfever sufferers in the UK. This makes us a majority not a minority group, so why aren't our needs being catered for?

What we need is a review of the examination system. Why do exams have to be taken in the summer?

I can genuinely say that when I took my first Open University exam I actually enjoyed the experience and I passed with flying colours. The wide range of new drugs is not the answer; sufferers do not like being patronised.

I realise that to make my point I need evidence, so if there is any research into the effects of hayfever on examination grades obtained could someone please let me know? If there isn't, there should be, so is anyone interested? I would be pleased to receive any information readers have regarding the impact of hayfever on exam performance, anecdotal included.

Of course to alter the exam schedule would have serious implications for the education calendar. Given the growing pressure for a four-term year, this would provide additional medical evidence to support the change.

PAUL NASH Team Valley business centre Earlsway Team Valley Gateshead Tyne and Wear

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