Dr Penny Dobson MBE, has retired as Chair of the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF). Penny set up the PCF in 2003 with a vision for every child with a bladder or bowel issue to be able to access an appropriately resourced integrated community-based service.

Penny has been an enormous influence in the field of paediatric continence, having worked as a trained nurse and social worker before setting up a new children’s charity,  ERIC in 1988, to fill the gap in the support available to children suffering from bedwetting. Penny has worked determinedly to improve the lives of thousands of children in the UK, and the PCF will continue to seek Penny’s advice and guidance in the future.

The PCF will now be co-chaired by ERIC’s Chief Executive, Juliette Rayner, and Children’s Specialist Nurse from Bladder & Bowel UK, Davina Richardson.

We are extremely grateful to Penny for the massive amount of time and energy she has given to improving paediatric continence provision for children over the years, and we wish her the best of luck in her retirement. She will become an Honorary Member of the PCF. Penny has written the below piece to commemorate her departure:

Endings and New Beginnings at the PCF!

As some of you will know, I formally retired from the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF) and as its chair in July. This was almost seventeen years to the day from its first meeting, which I organised while I was the founding director of ERIC. Why did I set up the PCF? Because there was a need for children with continence problems to be more visible politically and amongst policy-makers – and for their needs to be more fully met through local NHS services. When I retired from ERIC in 2008, I was asked to continue to chair the PCF on a voluntary basis – which I was very happy to do. It has been enjoyable and a great privilege to work closely with Forum members: individual clinicians, those representing national organisations and company members, ably supported by the team at The Whitehouse Consultancy. What has the PCF achieved over these seventeen years? Through numerous meetings with ministers, constituency MPs and Peers, alongside parliamentary questions, Early Day Motions, parliamentary receptions and an adjournment debate, we have, I believe, put paediatric continence on the map politically. Through our Commissioning Guides, there is no doubt as to what best practice looks like for NHS community paediatric continence services, although translating this into reality nationally  continues to be a challenge. The strength of the PCF, however, is that it has regularly measured UK service delivery through  Freedom of Information surveys, allowing us to target the MPs in those constituencies which have fallen behind. The PCF has also developed, with our partner organisations, tools to aid commissioners make the case for better services. Formal representation from national organisations, such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Nursing, the School and Public Health Nurses’ Association and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors’ Association , plus close links to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bladder and Bowel Continence Care, has also enormously extended our reach.

I leave with the reassurance that the PCF is in good shape – with Davina and Juliette   stepping up, despite their busy roles, to be joint chairs. To have such dual expertise as part of the executive team, together with Whitehouse colleagues, is an added bonus. The PCF will continue, I am certain, to provide political leadership in this area of paediatrics, most immediately addressing the need for paediatric continence services to be re-instated/improved post the Covid-19 crisis.

While I feel that it is the right time to retire, I shall certainly miss all of you at the PCF. Thank you for making my ending as chair so memorable. A new era begins!