Can I get incontinence products on the NHS?

You may be able to get incontinence products on the NHS, such as incontinence pads or bedding, but it depends on your local clinical commissioning group (CCG). To qualify for incontinence products, you may need to:

  • be assessed and start a treatment plan
  • meet criteria set out by your CCG 

Incontinence is when you unintentionally pass urine or stools (faeces) because you can't control your bladder or bowel. 

Assessing your condition

If you have incontinence, it's important that you're assessed by a healthcare professional. It may be possible to treat the cause of your incontinence, making incontinence products unnecessary.

  • Urinary incontinence can be treated with bladder training. This involves increasing the length of time between feeling the need to urinate and passing urine.
  • Bowel incontinence is often a symptom of another condition, such as diarrhoea, so treating the other condition may prevent the incontinence. For example, diarrhoea can be treated by changing your diet or taking medication.

Read more about treating urinary incontinence and treating bowel incontinence.

NHS continence services

You can get advice about your condition from:

  • an NHS continence service, which is staffed by specialist nurses, sometimes called continence advisers
  • your GP, who may refer you to a continence adviser or your local district nurse

You may be able to book an appointment at an NHS continence service without a referral from your GP.

Once you've been assessed, the healthcare professionals treating you will tell you which incontinence products are available on the NHS. Your local CCG may have criteria that you need to meet. For example, products may only be available for people with severe or long-term incontinence.

If you're eligible for incontinence products, you should be given as many as you need. If this doesn't happen, or if you have any concerns, tell the healthcare professionals treating you. You can also seek advice from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

What if I can't get incontinence products on the NHS?

If you can't get incontinence products on the NHS, you can buy your own. However, get medical advice first to get any treatment you need. Read more information about incontinence products and living with incontinence.

The charity PromoCon (Promoting Continence and Product Awareness), which is part of Disabled Living, Manchester, has independent advice on products that can help manage bladder and bowel problems. For more information on products and to order them:

If adaptations to your home would help with your incontinence, such as handrails near the toilet or a commode, the social care department of your local council may be able to provide these. Read about applying for a needs assessment on GOV.UK.

Read the answers to more questions about NHS services and treatments.

Further information:

 

Urinary incontinence

Stress, childbirth and age can all cause incontinence. Get expert advice on treatments, including pelvic floor exercises, medication and surgery.

Media last reviewed: 18/03/2013

Next review due: 18/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 03/10/2012

Next review due: 02/10/2014