Keeping control - What you should expect from your NHS bladder and bowel service

Good practice guide
Good practices guides focus on providing information on a clinical topic.
Danielle Harari
Date Published:
24 December 2011
Last updated: 
24 December 2011

In September 2010, the Royal College of Physicians published audit findings about the services and quality of care of people with bladder and bowel incontinence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The audit was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality and Improvement Partnership.

This report described in detail the care given to 18,253 people with continence problems in a variety of NHS settings such as hospital wards, hospital outpatient clinics, mental health hospitals, GP surgeries, and care homes. Staff working in these settings took part by submitting information for the audit. The audit asked key questions about how continence care was being delivered to patients.

The results were sent back to every organisation that took part with a request that staff look at areas where continence care was below standard, and to develop plans to improve services. The results were also made available to the public so that people could see how their local healthcare provider had performed. However, the report was 161 pages long, with much technical information, and was mainly written for health service managers and staff working in continence services.

Overall, this audit showed that there is a real need for an improvement in continence care for people with bladder and bowel problems. One way to do this is to provide information directly to people using these services. So, we met and talked to people who have used continence services, and with other groups such as Age UK and the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, to ask what audit information they wanted to see in a more user-friendly report and how it should be presented, and this is the result.

This booklet contains key messages from the audit and information about what care people can expect if they seek help for bladder or bowel problems.