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Next week (April 30 at 9pm), Channel 4’s real life documentary series, “Embarrassing Illnesses”, returns with a story on urinary incontinence and the revolutionary use of botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, injections to treat patients with the condition at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, part of Spire Healthcare, a group of 25 private hospitals in the UK.

Botulinum toxin, already popular as a cosmetic procedure, is now being used to treat women suffering from urinary incontinence; a condition which often affects suffers of common neurological complaints such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

One in three post-menopausal women experiences bladder over-activity; with symptoms include an urgent and frequent need to urinate, urge incontinence, interrupted sleep and bed-wetting. It often has a dramatic impact on their quality of life restricting their sex-life, ability to socialise and travel freely.

Until now the standard treatment has been medication in the form of drug therapy, but most patients find these treatments ineffective or cease medication within six months because of intolerable side effects.

For those affected, the only alternative has been major surgery. Being highly invasive and costly many choose to struggle on, leaving this debilitating condition untreated.

“Botulinum toxin has been shown - in multiple clinical trials - to be an effective solution for the vast majority of patients,” said Mr Mike Swinn, Consultant Urologist at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.

“Urge incontinence can be caused by many factors including neurological conditions. In the case of MS sufferers, urinary incontinence is frequently the dominant complaint. Effective treatment is therefore critical in terms of improving their overall quality of life.

“Botulinum toxin works by reducing the bladder muscle spasms which trigger urinary incontinence. To establish whether this treatment is suitable, a simple test is performed to determine the patient’s uro-dynamic pressure. Thereafter, 90% of patients respond positively to treatment and a single treatment controls the problem for up to average of nine months, before being repeated,” said Mr Mike Swinn.

Twenty-eight year old, Laura Blake, was treated by Mr Swinn at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley, Surrey, after four years of symptoms which included a frequent and urgent need to urinate.

“As a child I was a bed-wetter then - at the age of 24 - during my first job I began to experience an extreme urge to urinate. I remember having to stop a conversation with my boss because I simply couldn’t hold on any longer!

“That’s when alarm bells started to ring and I consulted a specialist. After a couple of years’ on medication and an unsuccessful bladder expansion procedure, I heard about Mr Swinn’s use of Botox for urinary incontinence. I had my first treatment seven months ago and have been symptom free ever since.

“I work as an Area Sales Manager which means a lot of travelling around. Until now I had to plan my day – especially my liquid intake - very carefully! On a three hour train journey for example I would make sure not to drink anything before hand.

“I learnt to drink little and often and to avoid things like orange juice which increased my sense of urgency. I also made a point of locating the loo wherever I was so I could be sure to get there quickly when the need arose! It’s a relief not to have to worry about these things anymore.” She said

Currently this procedure is performed under general or local anaesthetic and patients can go home later the same day.

Please visit for more information about the hospital, consultant, or other services.


For more media information contact:

Simon Buttrum
Business Development Manager
Spire Gatwick Park Hospital

Tel: 01293 778981

Note to editors:

Spire Healthcare is the second largest independent hospital provider of healthcare in the UK with a 25-year heritage in customer service and clinical excellence. It was formed in 2007 from the sale of BUPA hospitals to leading private equity company Cinven.

Spire Healthcare has 25 hospitals across the UK, providing services for private and insured patients as well as NHS-funded patients under the government’s ‘Choose and Book’ scheme. It also offers cosmetic and weight-loss surgery.

Its hospitals carry more than 160,000 in-patients and day-care treatments a year and work with over 3,000 consultants. It is proud to be the first independent hospital group to publish clinical outcome data.

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