This briefing details Government and NHS policies on the quality and safety of maternity care in England.
There is no centrally collected official data on the number of patients with continence care needs. Guidance from NHS England in 2018 reported earlier research estimating that 14 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence, while over half a million adults have faecal incontinence. Cited earlier research studies estimating that that 14 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence, while over half a million adults have regular faecal incontinence that impacts their quality of life. Faecal incontinence is closely associated with age, with prevalence about 15% in adults aged 85 years living at home, and more common in residential and nursing homes (see NHS England, Excellence in Continence Care).
Incontinence is often a hidden problem, with many patients reluctant to raise symptoms with healthcare professionals, or even to family and friends. However, poor continence care can increase risk of infection, loss of dignity, social isolation, as well as avoidable admission to nursing homes or hospital.
NHS continence services and continence products
In England, Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) are responsible for continence care, taking into account guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE):
As noted above, NHS England’s Excellence in Continence Care guide, updated in 2018, provides advice for commissioners, providers and healthcare staff on understanding and addressing continence needs within their local population. It is applicable to all children, young people, adults and the elderly, from assessment, diagnosis and treatment to recovery where possible. The purpose of the guidance is to promote consistent practice, improve clinical outcomes and the experiences of people with continence needs, and reduce health inequalities.
NHS continence services are sometimes provided in specific incontinence clinics, staffed by specialist nurses and physiotherapists. Continence clinics and district nurses can supply incontinence pads on the NHS, although patients may need to be assessed for eligibility. Personal health budgets may also be available locally from ICBs to help people manage and pay for their continence care needs.
Further information on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of incontinence, and access to incontinence products, can be found on the NHS website:
Further information and advice
The charity Bladder & Bowel UK provides advice on bladder and bowel health, incontinence products and other options for managing incontinence, as well as signposting to services. Support is available on the Bladder & Bowel UK website and via their helpline on 0161 214 4591.
The Continence Product Advisor gives independent and evidence-based advice on how to choose and use suitable incontinence products.
Age UK also provide a webpage on urinary and bowel incontinence help and advice.
Incontinence | 25 Apr 2023 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 180531
Incontinence | 25 Apr 2023 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 180530
Incontinence: Health Services | 7 Dec 2022 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 83559
Incontinence: Health Services | 17 Nov 2022 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 83560
Incontinence: Medical Equipment | 19 Oct 2022 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 61229
Strikes have been taking place across the NHS in England. This briefing looks at when and why some NHS workers are striking and explains the latest pay deals.
There will be a Backbench Business Committee debate on the provision of auditory verbal therapy taking place in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 12 December at 9:30am. The debate will be led by Sally-Ann Hart MP.