ERIC’s new trustee, Dr Eve Fleming, reflects on 35 years of helping children with bowel and bladder problems.

Group photo of ERIC Trustees
ERIC's trustees are thrilled to welcome a new member

After qualifying as a doctor in the 60s, I worked as a GP for 10 years then transferred to community child health to work with children, which allowed me to have more time to spend with my family.

I took on a role running the bowel and bladder clinics in South Warwickshire in the 80s. Bowel and bladder health was a topic that hadn’t been covered in my medical training so I had to learn quickly! I took it as a complement that the children called me the ‘wee and poo doctor’.

I had great professional satisfaction from helping children with wetting and soiling problems, as well as many laughs. I treated one boy for some time and when he became clean he told me “You have changed my life.”

I also remember an 11 year old girl who was constantly wet and had learning difficulties. She was extremely frustrated as well as the teachers at her school. Her story was unusual and her mother was convinced there was something wrong.

I found out that her problems had been caused by damage following a fall, and needed surgery. It was fantastic to be able to tell everyone that the wetting wasn’t her fault and we could cure it.

Although hers was a rare condition, it emphasised for me the importance of a detailed assessment for children, and also that mothers are usually right!

The parents and children I saw often found help from ERIC. Their information about how common bladder and bowel problems are was particularly reassuring.

I went on to co-author the Department of Health exemplar on ‘toilet training problems and special needs,’ and developed a toilet training resource for parents and children with Sense Toys called ‘Toilet Time’, which ERIC stocks in their online shop.

I help run the course ‘Learning to wee and poo in the right place’ with the National Autistic Society and recently wrote a book based on these courses called ‘Toilet Training and the Autism Spectrum’.

I am delighted to join ERIC as a trustee. I want to help combat the stigma associated with bladder and bowel problems but I’m also keen to use my role to investigate the way services have to adapt following changes in NHS commissioning; to ensure professionals working with children and teenagers with continence difficulties are supported; to encourage more research into the conditions; to promote help for children with special needs, autism and emotional difficulties; and to strengthen the links between ERIC and other organisations with common interests.