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More action on continence care is desperately needed to help children and young people according to a new report, 'It Happens to me too'. ERIC has worked in partnership on the report calling on the Government and NHS England to improve community continence care services across the UK.*

Support for children and young people with bladder and bowel issues is inadequate and needs to be addressed urgently, a leading group of charities, healthcare professionals, researchers and industry partners have concluded in the report published today. 

Parliamentary launch 

‘It happens to me too’, was launched in Parliament at an event hosted by Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Continence Care, Rosie Cooper MP. Three years on from the launch of NHS England’s Excellence in Continence Care (EICC) report, it calls for a renewed focus on care for children and young people, labelling the implementation of NHS England’s work ‘painfully slow’.

Significant stigma

Around 900,000 children and young people suffer with bladder and bowel control problems with one in three (30%) of children suffering with constipation and up to one in thirty (2-3%) of children experiencing daytime wetting.The report highlights the significant stigma that exists around bladder and bowel issues. Almost two thirds of young people said they would be embarrassed to see a doctor about continence issues resulting in a significant impact on their day to day lives.

Lack of early intervention 

Despite the burden on the lives of children and young people, evidence shows a lack of early intervention in diagnosing and treating bladder and bowel conditions and the risk that young people are not supported through the transition from child to adult services.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • Swift implementation of EICC to deliver a clear framework for delivering high quality bladder and bowel services including knowledge over patient rights and access to services.
  • One community-based service covering day and night time wetting, soiling and constipation problems.
  • Local services should seek to identify people with continence issues who may be at risk and offer a comprehensive assessment to look for ‘red flags’ indicating an underlying condition.
  • Bladder and bowel services for young people should employ a paediatric continence nurse specialist.
  • Local pathways should be implemented, through which healthcare professionals can refer young people on to other services such as specialist care, social services or mental health services if appropriate.

'We have to act now'

Chair of the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF), Dr Penny Dobson MBE said: “Many children and young people with bladder and bowel problems suffer in silence, and whilst help is out there it can be difficult to navigate. We have to act now to ensure that the help and support is there and is accessible so that young people can get on with their lives and realise their full potential.

Many children and young people with bladder and bowel problems suffer in silence, and whilst help is out there it can be difficult to navigate.

“The social stigma that exists around bladder and bowel issues prevents so many children and young people from coming forward and seeking the help they so desperately need. Some suffer in silence for years, not knowing that solutions exist. Many don’t know who to turn to and sometimes fall victim to bullying at school or on social media. The message for them is clear - there is no need to be ashamed.

The message for them is clear - there is no need to be ashamed.

“We recognise the strain facing the NHS and the pressure staff are working under but feel very strongly that providing comprehensive children’s continence services on the NHS will not only result in better care but reduce costs in the long term. I hope the publication of today’s report marks a significant step towards addressing these challenges.”

Read the  full report here.

*The report was developed in partnership with the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF), charities ERIC The Children’s Bladder and Bowel Charity and Bladder & Bowel UK, the University of Bristol and Coloplast.