Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Public Toilet Access in the United Kingdom

Quick and plentiful access to public toilet facilities when needed is a common concern of many people with IBS, as well as other chronic medical conditions that may affect the bowel and/or bladder. IBS has addressed various aspects of this topic several times in the past, from the merits of “can’t wait cards” to “Ally’s Law” laws in several U. S. states, spearheaded by the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community to allow people with medical conditions emergency access to employee-only restrooms in retail stores.  (Click on the Ally’s Law tag below the post to see all relevant posts.) This is not just a concern in a single country, however, but cuts across national borders.

Because this blog has many readers from the United Kingdom, we’d like to draw attention to a blog post by Julie Thompson, registered dietician and advisor to The IBS Network in Sheffield, the U.K. national organization for irritable bowel syndrome. She regularly writes as Jules_GastroRD at Clinical Alimentary. Most recently, she discusses some concerns specific to the U.K. such as fees for use of public facilities and the closure of many of them in recent times. Pay toilets are common in Europe and other regions across the globe, while in the U.S., for the past few decades, the practice has been rare and, in fact, illegal in some localities.

Ms.Thompson cites a study surveying people with IBD and the negative impact of these barriers on their quality of life. Although IBD is a different condition from IBS, it shares a major symptom with IBS of often urgent, unpredictable need to use a toilet. She also discusses “can’t wait cards” as well as RADAR keys issued to people with disabilities in the U.K. for a modest charge in order to unlock “disabled” accessible public toilets, a resource also available to people with urgent medical needs, and offers links to other interesting articles and blog posts.  Please read the entire post at the link below.

http://clinicalalimentary.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/my-annual-toilet-rant/

IBS Impact is interested in encouraging U.K. readers and followers to discuss their opinions and experiences on the points raised by the post linked above. Are these common concerns in the IBS community as well, as might be surmised? How can advocacy and awareness specific to the U.K. possibly help the overall cause? Please comment, either here on the IBS Impact blog or directly on Clinical Alimentary.

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