What is the Paediatric Continence Forum?

The Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF) is an independent national campaign group. It was set up in 2003 to increase political awareness of the needs of children and young people who have issues with their bladder and/or bowel health and continence and to improve NHS services in this area of child health. Our vision is for every child to be able to receive the support they require so that any bladder or bowel condition or issue they have is identified, assessed and treated promptly, by a healthcare professional with the appropriate level of knowledge and expertise, to allow them achieve their full potential and maximum quality of life.

What is the problem?

The Paediatric Continence Forum estimates that there are about 1.5 million or more children and young people aged 0 -18 years old in the UK who have a bladder or bowel health issue. This figure is likely to be an underestimate due to a lack of recognition of bladder and bowel health issues and under-reporting due to the stigma associated with these conditions.

The most frequently occurring issues are bedwetting, daytime urinary incontinence, constipation and faecal incontinence or a combination of these. Bladder and bowel difficulties often occur at, or perpetrate into a sensitive time in the child’s emotional, social and physical development and impact negatively on health and wellbeing. They contribute to family stress, can be associated with safeguarding issues and come with associated financial costs that have a disproportionate impact on low income families.

Bladder and bowel conditions are treatable, yet availability of community-based NHS treatment services varies across the UK. Where there is no single integrated service treating all conditions, families may struggle to access any care or have to travel to different clinics and see different healthcare professionals. This compromises treatment outcomes and increases costs to the NHS.

The PCF undertakes a Freedom of Information Survey every three years into the availability of community children’s bladder and bowel services in the UK. Please see our ‘Resources’ for our latest report.

The purpose of the PCF

The PCF advocates prevention, early detection and effective intervention. The PCF’s vision is that every child is able to receive the support they require so that any bladder, bowel or continence condition or issue they have or may have is identified, assessed, supported and treated promptly to allow them to achieve their full potential and maximum quality of life.

Our aim is that integrated, well-resourced, community-based children’s bladder and bowel services are available to all children aged 0-19 and families nationally throughout the UK, on an equal basis.

We work to achieve its vision and aim by increasing the awareness and understanding of Integrated Care Boards, Health Boards, the Government, and health providing organisations that:

  • Every child and young person in the UK should have access to a well- resourced, community-based, integrated, children’s bladder and bowel service.
  • Information about the provision of local services should be readily available in all health and educational settings. It should also be clear who can refer to these services and how families and young people can contact referrers.