HC Deb 13 January 1987 vol 108 cc172-4W
42. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many incontinence pads were supplied to the National Health Service in each of the past 10 years; at what cost; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Currie

This information is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. It is for the local health authorities to decide policy on the provision of incontinence pads and other incontinence aids.

Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what initiatives his Department takes in advising medical schools to provide training for medical practitioners in the care of the incontinent; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if his Department will provide vocational courses on the control and care of incontinent persons for general practitioners; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

Under the helping the community to care programme, the Department is funding a project for the development, by the King's Fund, of an information and training pack for general practitioners, community nurses and other professional staff, on the management of incontinence in elderly people. The training materials, consisting of handbooks, videos and a pocket book, are to be launched in May 1987.

The content of undergraduate medical education is a matter for universities, within broad guidelines laid down by the General Medical Council. Continuing education and vocational training for general practitioners in England is centrally funded by the Department, at the rate of nearly £2.5 million this year. The allocations are administered regionally by general practice educational sub-committees, who determine the content and nature of the educational activities. The Department intends to publicise the King's Fund training materials both to universities with medical schools and to the general practice educational sub-committees.

Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) to what extent he encourages the provision of district continence nurse advisers; what encouragement he gives for the development of such services; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what advice, encouragement and guidance his Department gives for the establishment of walk-in or self-referral continence clinics; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will take steps to ensure that minimum acceptable standards of care for incontinent persons are available within each health board in England; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

It is for individual authorities to decide for themselves both the level of provision, and the pace and direction of further developments in their services, in the light of their local needs and circumstances.

We do, however, expect health authorities to provide appropriate services for incontinent people, and in 1977 the Department's chief nursing officer wrote to all health authorities advising them that the management of incontinence should be clearly identified as the responsibility of a designated special nurse, who should act as a "resource person" for nurses working in hospitals and the community services. Since then, most district health authorities have appointed at least one continence adviser. Community nurses also provide advice and assessment as part of their nursing duties.

Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what advice his Department gives to health authorities regarding the importance of medical-surgical management and nursing-care management of incontinent patients; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what advice he gives regarding the provision of continence advice and service; what information he has on variations in care of incontinent patients from one area to another; if he will write to each health authority concerning provision for the treatment of incontinence; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

Although data about incontinence services in particular districts are not routinely collected, information about these services is regularly included in the reports of the Health Advisory Service, and is also obtained informally by the Department's own officers.

There has been a growing awareness in recent years of the important contribution which the correct management of incontinence, and the provision of appropriate services, can make to enable those suffering from this distressing condition to obtain help and to remain in their own homes in the community.

A considerable amount of research, much of it funded by the Government, has been carried out into various aspects of incontinence. For example, the results of a study of incontinence pads and garments was published in October 1986 by the DHSS, Scottish Home and Health Department, Welsh Office and Department of Health and Social Services (Northern Ireland) in the "Health Equipment Information" series. In order to bring together the wide range of recently completed work, we are funding a research review by the Nursing Practice Research Unit at Surrey university. In order to disseminate the research results and to present options for the development of cost-effective services, we are to hold a seminar in February 1987 for service managers from health authorities and social services departments.

Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the number of incontinence sufferers in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will give an estimate of the number of male incontinent persons in the age bracket 15 to 64 and 65-plus years in England; if he will give the same estimates for females; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

An epidemiological survey conducted by the Medical Research Council's epidemiology and medical care unit between 1976 and 1979 covering a sample of the general population in England and Wales showed rates of prevalence of urinary incontinence per thousand of population as follows:

Rate per thousand population
aged 15–64 16
aged 65 and over 69
aged 15–64 85
aged 65 and over 116

Using the 1980 population figures, this would give a total prevalence of adult incontinence in the community of the order of approximately 2½ million in the United Kingdom.

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