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Catheter funding proposals spark NT campaign

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Ministers must rethink plans to cut funding for specialist catheter equipment, or vulnerable patients could be forced to walk around in their own urine, warn nurses.

Proposed government changes to Part IX of the drug tariff have placed specialist catheters in the same band as standard ones, meaning the cost of producing them is not covered by central funding.

Specialist nurses have warned this will mean many specialist companies simply decide not to produce these products and force nurses to use leaky, ill-fitting but cheap products instead.

Other errors in the proposed tariff include a latex catheter being placed on a non-latex list – potentially putting patients at risk of developing serious allergic reactions if it is wrongly prescribed

Nurses are calling for the government to completely rethink its plans, which have been proposed as a cost-saving measure.

Mary White, independent nurse consultant, said: ‘They take any opportunity to save money and don't realise the cost to patients in quality of life far exceeds the saving that they think they will make in the short term.’

She added that the cheaper products could pose a risk to children. ‘You are more likely to have urethral strictures and complications developing in children,’ she said.

June Rogers, a specialist paediatric continence nurse at Liverpool PCT, said: ‘We get letters from the government saying how they want to listen to the people, but that is just window dressing.

‘If you have products that don’t fit and leak, that will lead to sore skin and that is going to have cost implications in terms of nurses’ time,’ she added.

This is the third consultation on revising prices for continence and stoma appliances since October 2005, when initial proposals were strongly opposed. In particular, the government was forced to rethink plans to cut funding to specialist nurse visits to fit appliances (NT News, 11 September, p4).

NT is running an online petition, calling on ministers to listen to nurses over the proposals. To add your name to the petition, which will be delivered to parliament before the consultation closes, email your name, job title and organisation to the online editor. Please include 'online petition' in the subject line.

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