There are several UK organisations that have written about and are responsible for UK continence related policy. Unsurprisingly, this includes organisations affiliated to the Department of Health (DH) and groups within the NHS, as well as several other closely related professional bodies.

The larger policy documents and reports tend to only be published and reviewed every few years. These include the NICE national guidelines for the ‘Management of Urinary Incontinence in Women’ (2006), with an equivalent document also available for bowel incontinence. Medical, nursing, and other allied professional organisations, such as the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians, and Association of Continence Advice have all published several policy documents.   

For example, ‘The National Audit of Continence Care (September 2010)’, was produced by the Healthcare Commission in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians. The latter medical professional organisation also produced the 2011 report ‘Keeping Control: What you should expect from your NHS bladder and bowel service’. They also published research findings in conjunction with the British Geriatrics Society on ‘Privacy and Dignity in Continence Care’ (2009). Whilst the Royal College of Nursing produced an earlier report entitled ‘Improving continence care for patients: The role of the nurse’ (2006).

At the parliamentary level, there is also the APPG on continence care, a cross-party group that raises the profile of this issue and which has made a number of recommendations, and produced reports such as ‘Cost effective commissioning for continence care’ (2011) and ‘Continence Care Service (England 2013) Survey Report’.

In addition, on the global scale the WHO published the first International Consultation on incontinence in 1998. Whilst the International Continence Society (ICS), a medical professional organisation, has published a range of international policy documents and guidelines on all aspects of continence care. This includes the 6th International Consultation on Incontinence’ that was published in 2018.

There are also several UK health charities that have published policy documents in relation to continence care on a local and national level, with many coming together to produce joint documents. In 2018, for example, the charity Marie Curie in conjunction with several other UK based charities published recommendations from a continence research workshop that was held in 2016. Whilst Bladder Health UK has… YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST TO ADD HERE! At the international level, the World Federation of Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP), a newly formed umbrella organisation for charities working in this area, has also started to publish policy statements, with for example a ‘European Patients Forum Statement’ related to the Covid-19 crisis, published on 2ndMay 2020.

In terms of the UK, many individual hospitals / NHS Foundation Trusts produce their own continence care guidelines to help give patients and their families additional information about what they can expect from their services.  As an example, the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust published a Continence Care Policy document in June 2012.