Incontinence: Engineering Innovation to Enhance Quality of Life

Incontinence is a common, if rarely discussed, condition. It will affect nearly one in three people at some point in their life, but still there is little public awareness of the scale of the problem and it remains largely overlooked by Government policy.

The condition burdens the NHS with annual healthcare costs of over £2bn per year. It is a major cause of admission to care homes, yet society continues to shy away from discussing its impact or how it could be better addressed.

To enhance the impact of healthcare technology for incontinence, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers recommends:

  1. The NHS establishes a cost-benefit procurement framework to recognise overall savings from increased use of incontinence devices.
  2. The engineering community builds on initiatives like IMPRESS to establish incontinence treatment as a sector within the new Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.
  3. The Government removes VAT from incontinence products to make their use, and hence their benefits, more widespread. 
  4. The Department of Health develops a public awareness programme to destigmatise all
    aspects of incontinence.
  5. The NHS create a Continence Technology lead within every general hospital and PCT, which would help increase opportunity for identification and evaluation of new continence technology. 
  6. A forum for industry, academia, the NHS, governmental bodies, trade associations and research funders be created that promotes interaction, identifies opportunities and creates focus for funding incontinence initiatives/research.


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