Paediatric Continence Forum

Political and Parliamentary Monitoring
Week Commencing 20th August 2018


The Government yesterday published 24 Brexit planning papers, outlining how different sectors of the economy should prepare for any ‘no deal’ between the U.K. and the E.U. Although the Government says that reaching no agreement is unlikely, there are only two months to go until the final EU Summit at which either of the two sides will formally commit to an agreement, or a ‘no deal’ with be triggered.

The guidance includes instructions for business and information about medicines and medical devices. Pharmaceutical firms, including those in the urology and continence sectors, are already stockpiling supplies, in part because of the concern that importing the raw materials required to make the products will take longer and become more expensive. After March 2019, the official leave date, the U.K. will continue to recognise devices approved for the EU market and CE-marked. The U.K. will also comply with all key elements of the Medical Devices Regulations.

Overall, the EU (Withdrawal) Act will ensure that existing EU rules are converted into UK law at the moment of exit, with changes where necessary to make sure the rules work in the U.K. In a ‘no deal’, there will be a U.K. system for regulation of paediatric medicines in which the UK will ensure incentives remain to encourage such medicines on to the UK market.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has instructed drug companies to ensure they have six weeks additional supplies of medicines on top of their normal stockpiles to avoid disruption caused by any ‘no deal’ scenario. Steve Bates, chief executive of the UK Bioindustry Association, called this a “massive challenge”, with only 200 days to go to until Britain leaves the EU. Mr Hancock said patients should not seek to store additional medicines at home.

The news of the stockpiling of urological devices will be of interest to PCF members, as will the assurances made over paediatric medicines and the efforts to ensure that there remains a constant supply of medical drugs and devices.

Whitehouse will continue to monitor Brexit developments, including reaction from the health industries and pharmaceutical sector.



Time to tackle continence taboo say lead charities

Ten leading charities, including Marie Curie and Age UK, have warned that the taboo around continence issues needs to be tackled if those in need of treatment are going to have the confidence to access the care they need. In a series of workshops, the charities also warned that more funding and investment needs to be made in the field.


Launching their report “My bladder and bowel own my life: A collaborate workshop addressing the need for continence research”, the charities and health organisations recommend increasing funding for research, prioritising research applications which examine continence issues, and improving continence services. The report highlights the need to talk more openly about continence, including concern about how continence issues are referred to through euphemisms (such as “whoop moments”) which trivialise continence conditions. Whilst the report outlines that companies have a duty to advertise their products responsibly, and select language carefully, it also points to the lack of general awareness and education amongst the population.

Dr Doug Brown, chief research and policy officer at Alzheimer’s Society, described the report as a “vital step” in helping tackle the stigma against continence issues, whilst Dr Sabine Best, head of research at Marie Cure, highlighted that the lack of attention and importance granted to continence issues meant that many symptoms were often dismissed.

Whilst the whole report will interest PCF members, some specific sections highlight concerns which have been expressed within the forum. This includes the reduction in the number of specialist nurses, as well as the lack of education resources available. This ties closely with concerns expressed at the local level about the impact of local government budget cuts on school nurses, who have commonly been the first port of call for parents and young people seeking education and advice. The report calls for more training in continence issues for professionals.

If you would like a print copy of the report, please get in touch with Whitehouse. Whitehouse will be requesting a meeting with the authors of the report, in order to establish whether the PCF can work with other organisations on campaigns or future publications.


Number of nursing students plummets for second year in-a-row

The number of student nurses given places at English universities has fallen 4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, recent data has shown. Statistics show that 16,100 places were filled in 2017, which fell to less than 15,500 this year. In all, the number of filled nursing places has fallen by 11 per cent since 2016. The number of male nursing students has also declined dramatically, with numbers falling by more than 25 per cent since 2016.

Earlier this year, in the face of much criticism, the Government removed bursaries for nursing students. By dropping the bursary, the Government was hoping more nurses could be trained, as places were previously capped by what the NHS could afford. Now, nursing bosses have encouraged the Government to reintroduce some form of incentive for students to enter the industry.

This news was compounded by more new figures, which show an overall drop in the number of nurses working across the health service. The figures released by NHS Digital show the number of whole time equivalent nurses working in the NHS fell by 148 between 2017 and 2018. There was also a small decrease in the number of health visitors working in the health service. We have reported recently that the NHS has launched the biggest recruitment drive in its history, and these figures will service as further momentum for further investment in staff as demand on services continues to rise.

This news of the fall of nurses in the NHS, coupled with a decrease in the number of students applying for nursing roles, will be of concern to PCF members. Nurses are often the first individuals approached by families and young people, and without them additional pressure would undoubtedly be placed on GP surgeries, where long waiting times already exist.

Whitehouse will continue to monitor employment levels, and will reach out to the Minister responsible for training.

Number of Pharmacists rise as GPs report additional stress
The Government is on track to increase the number of pharmacists working in GP practices, thus creating a more integrated health service. New figures reveal that NHS England is set to smash its target to deploy an extra 1,500 practice-based pharmacists through the GP Forward View (GPFV) programme. The increase in new posts is part of a £31 million investment in more than 700 practices, with an additional £112 million earmarked for a further 1,500 pharmacists over the next three years. According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, there were 615 pharmacists working in general practice in September 2017, an increase of 202 on the previous year.

The news that the Government is investing in practice-based pharmacy comes in the same week that a survey of GPs for the charity Mind found that 40% have experienced a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD. The head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said the results, which also found that a quarter of doctors feel ‘burnt out’, were “deeply concerning, but not a total surprise”. She called on the Government to address the issue of workload and invest more resources on the frontline.

This news will be of great interest to PCF members. Whilst making Pharmacists easier to access will be of great benefit to young people and those in need of continence products prescribed by their GP, the reports that more GPs are feeling ‘burnt out’ at work will concern the forum. It is unlikely that the reduction in school nurse provision will be reversed should the NHS secure extra funding, meaning increased demand on GP surgeries, thus exacerbating the issue of workload.

Whitehouse will continue to monitor staffing levels, as well as the success of the GP Forward View.