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Incontinence

Volume 202: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the proposed resource centre as recommended in the "Agenda for Action on Continence Services" will be established; what its functions will be; and how good practice in the provision of continence services and supplies will be disseminated to all health authorities.

We are currently considering a grant application for 1992–93 to set up a "Continence Foundation". The objectives of the foundation would include central co-ordination of information on all continence initiatives and promotion of effective and accessible continence investigation and advisory services throughout the United Kingdom.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department intends to take to ensure that increased central purchasing of continence supplies does not lead to a lack of availability of products which are required by a small number of people to meet a particular individual need.

National purchasing contracts normally cover bulk supply items in common use by health authorities. They are entered into to avoid risks of monopoly supply or premium pricing to the NHS. In all cases they are expected to offer demonstrable benefits to the NHS. Where particular patients require a specified product not available on national contracts, additional arrangements will be made either nationally or locally to ensure supply.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department intends to take to ensure there are improvements in the education and training of all people providing continence services as recommended in the "Agenda for Action on Continence Services".

The Department has an internal working group on continence services which among other things is considering how the education and training of doctors, nurses and other professional staff can be improved in this field. Appropriate professional bodies are being consulted.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department has taken to implement the recommendations of the "Agenda for Action on Continence Services"; and what measures will be taken to ensure all health authorities undertake implementation.

In July last year, we sent copies of the "Agenda for Action" to the chairman of all district health authorities, commending the elements of an effective local service identified in it and asking them to review the arrangements for continence services in their districts. Progress in the light of this and further guidance on good practice as it becomes available will be monitored as appropriate by the NHS management executive. A working group has been set up within the Department to take forward the recommendations in the "Agenda for Action" which require central action.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he has given to the difficulties associated with the provision of incontinence supplies to women and the drug tariff definition as described in section 12 of the "Agenda for Action on Continence Services"; and if he will make a statement.

The arguments for a change in the drug tariff definition have been considered but did not present a convincing case for change at present.