Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Government orders incontinence services review
Health minister Paul Boateng announced the review
NHS incontinence services are to be reviewed in a bid to improve the care of 3.5m sufferers in the UK.
Health Minister Paul Boateng announced the review on Wednesday. Recommendations will be unveiled early next year.
A working party of health workers, voluntary groups and social services care managers, headed up by the NHS Executive, will examine the current provision of NHS services and produce updated guidance to replace guidelines drawn up in 1991.
Distressing and widespread
Mr Boateng said: "Incontinence is a distressing and widespread condition which affects over three million adults and half a million children over the age of five.
"Whilst many people can be cured, or at least given help which can significantly improve their condition, embarrassment and lack of knowledge often leads to sufferers not seeking out the help that is available.
"Good continence services are a vital component of the National Health Service - they play an important part in enabling people to lead independent lives.
"I want to ensure that the NHS provides a modern continence service that lets people have access to high quality, prompt, and readily available assistance."
The new guidance will be sent to health authorities, Primary Care Groups and NHS Trusts to help and support them in planning and delivering continence services.
David Pollock, director of the Continence Foundation, welcomed the review as "badly needed and very timely".
He said: "Local continence services have increasingly been unable to help people who come to them in distress.
"Demand has grown as a result of public awareness campaigns and budget cuts have been exacerbated by the extension of VAT to incontinence pads last January."