An insights report published earlier this year, reflecting the lived experiences of people affected by bladder and bowel control issues, has been presented at the House of Commons this week.

The Voices for Change report was the result of a partnership project between the West of England AHSN, the Bladder and Bowel Health Integration Team (BABCON HIT) at Bristol Health Partners and Disruptive Thinking.

The report explores many of challenges faced by those living with bladder and bowel conditions, or caring for someone who does, drawing out problem statements that led to the identification of six key themes: perception, communication, environmental, wider health services, mental health and anxiety, and participation.

Its purpose was to give a voice to people affected by bladder and bowel control issues, with the aim of opening up conversations about what can be a very sensitive topic, in order to call for change. It’s thought that more than one in five people are affected by bladder and bowel conditions in the UK – and that 14 million men, women, young people and children live with bladder and bowel continence problems. (Source:

Off the back of the report, Professor Nikki Cotterill, Director of BABCON HIT, was invited to give a presentation at the bi-annual meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Bladder and Bowel Continence Care, of which she is a member, which took place this week at the House of Commons.

The APPG for Bladder and Bowel Continence Care is an informal cross-party group that is run by and for the Houses of Commons and Lords and includes a wide cohort of leading clinicians and experts.

The group’s mission is to break taboo by raising awareness of bladder and bowel continence care for adults and children and to promote cost-effective funding for assessment, treatment and appropriate product provision.

Its priorities chime closely with the six key action points that came out of the Voices for Change report, which suggested improvements to existing information, services and pathways, for healthcare providers, commissioners, researchers, innovators and local government to consider. These action points aimed to help guide thinking around developing or identifying innovative healthcare solutions.

Following the meeting, Professor Nikki Cotterill said: “It was a real privilege to be invited to present to the APPG for Bladder and Bowel Continence Care this week. I was able to share the recommendations from our Voices for Change report and give an update on the work of the BABCON HIT and the CONfidence self-management app.

“The themes of perception and communication raised by the report resonated with many of the other speakers and guests. There was a strong consensus that we need to raise the profile of talking about bladder and bowel leakage and that collectively the APPG is well-placed to do this.

“Two patient speakers also told their own powerful stories about their experiences with bladder and bowel leakage. Both called for the need to talk about this and to not be too embarrassed to discuss these symptoms and the language used to describe them.

“We discussed the fact that many people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ and that sharing resources such as this report and the CONfidence app are so important to help people to realise they are not alone and there are actions that can be taken. It was acknowledged that services are increasingly being squeezed and therefore the focus on improving bladder and bowel health promotion and literacy is key. The CONfidence app was highlighted as a useful source for this.”

Read the Voices for Change report here.

The Voices for Change project is the second run of the West of England AHSN’s Create Open Health programme, which was established in 2019. Read more about this programme here.

Find out about the CONfidence app and how to download it.

Posted on November 29, 2022

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