After recognising the need for nationwide improvements in continence care, NHS England has published the Excellence in Continence Care commissioning framework. The framework will help address shortfalls in care for continence problems to ensure that safe, dignified, efficient and effective care is consistently provided.

Members of the campaigning coalition the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF), including ERIC’s founder Dr Penny Dobson MBE, were involved in the development of the document and played a key role in ensuring it had a strong child element.

The PCF, whose members include paediatricians, continence nurses, and ERIC, among others, has long called for continence services to be fully integrated. It conducted research in 2014 which showed that only 27% of commissioning bodies across the UK offered joined up services.

Need for integrated continence services

Few NHS continence treatment services provide a proper, integrated service that treats all continence conditions. The result of a disjointed service is that families must travel to different clinics and see different advisors. This compromises treatment outcomes and costs the NHS money.

Where continence services are not integrated across primary and secondary care and care homes, children, young people, adults and vulnerable groups suffer unnecessarily with the conditions.

The problem has been exacerbated by higher profile conditions attracting attention and resources, while people with continence needs have suffered in silence.

The PCF outlined the importance of well-planned integrated community based services in meeting children and young people’s continence needs in its NICE-accredited Paediatric Continence Commissioning Guide (2014, updated 2015).

Continence care guidance

The Excellence in Continence Care Commissioning framework is guidance for commissioners, providers and health professionals on how best to care and guide people to manage bladder and bowel problems.

The framework provides a practical means for commissioners to understand the burden of continence needs within their local population in order to put in place the best possible care.

Although the guidance is advisory rather than statutory, NHS England has said it will actively encourage its use.

Find out more about the work of the Paediatric Continence Forum in campaigning for better continence services.