Tackling a Taboo Subject –  NHS Forth Valley Team Wins Prestigious Award

A specialist team who have helped improve the quality of life for hundreds of Forth Valley women suffering incontinence after childbirth have been awarded the prestigious William Cullen Prize by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).

The multi-disciplinary team, which includes gynaecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, physiotherapists and the continence advisory service, is led by NHS Forth Valley Consultant Colorectal surgeon, Mr John Camilleri- Brennan. During his time in Forth Valley Mr Brennan has pioneered and established endoanal ultrasound to diagnose and help in the treatment of anal sphincter defects. The team have also developed a protocol for the management of tears and pelvic floor disorders.

Mr Camilleri- Brennan’s transformation of the service began in 2008 with the arrival of a £65,000 ultrasound machine. This enabled staff to provide a more accurate diagnosis and was also helpful in recognising staging in rectal cancer. Previously patients had to travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow for treatment but now the majority of 400 patients seen annually can be treated locally.

On receiving the William Cullen Prize, Mr Camilleri- Brennan said: “This award recognises our work to try to improve the quality of life for many women with these types of disorders which, unfortunately, are often still a taboo subject. People are very reluctant to speak about it and often present late. However, there is no need to be embarrassed and I would encourage people to approach their practice nurse or GP as soon as possible as incontinence is best treated at an early stage.

“We may not be able to find a perfect cure but can tailor treatment to help people manage their condition and enable them to have a better quality of life.”

Mr Camilleri- Brennan’s team was the first in Scotland and only second in the UK to introduce anal implants designed to tighten sphincter muscles. They continue to hold twice yearly training sessions for consultants.

Locum Consultant Mr Thomas Kallachil, who submitted the nomination added: “This award is richly deserved. It is an excellent example of working together to provide an expert surgical and nursing diagnosis and treatment, and the results are clearly evident in the way they have improved the quality of life for so many of our patients.

The William Cullen Prize was established in 2016 by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to recognise excellence in teaching and/or service innovation at a regional level.  Recipients receive a unique print of a William Cullen letter from the archive of his medical consultation letters.