How To Get Free Nappies for Adults and Children From The NHS

Posted by Will 01/07/2016 43 Comment(s) Adults,Kids,

How to get free nappies on the NHS


We are writing this article because of the high numbers of phone calls we get from desperate people looking for financial assistance. A common phone call might be about a child who no longer fits into normal baby nappies, or about a relative who has suffered an accident or illness.


The process for getting free nappies is slightly different for adults and children. We will start with children.



Free Children’s Nappies


There are quite a few things you need to think about once you have made the decision to try and get nappies for your child given to you by the NHS. Every Primary Care Trust (PCT) in the country has its own guidelines they need to follow, and you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that your child may not qualify at the time you ask for help.


The first thing you will need to do is have a meeting with some of your local healthcare professionals. A good place to start is your GP, who can give you a referral to your local district nurse or a continence advisor. These are specialist nurses who are experts in continence. Sometimes you might be able to get an appointment at an NHS continence service to see a continence advisor without a referral.


One of these criteria is the age of your child, and they will usually need to be above a certain age before they can even be considered for free nappies. This age changes from place to place but is usually 3, 4, or 5. Unfortunately we are hearing more and more about health trusts raising their age limit to 5 when it had been lower before.


Sometimes your child might need to be receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to get nappies for free, and in some cases your local trust may not have any scheme set up for free nappies; instead they can help you with treatment and potty training or can advise you on where are the best places to buy nappies privately.


Living in an area with a complete lack of a scheme is rare, but be aware that wherever you are you will more than likely find quite harsh restrictions on the number of free nappies you can get. This once again varies depending on where you live and on the needs of your child (such as if they only have accidents at night or in the day) but you can probably only expect at maximum an average of 4 or 5 nappies per day.


You will have little or no choice in the brand of nappy you can get and they are often clearly the cheaper type of product. Since the nappies are free a lot of people are happy to receive any help they can get but this can cause problems if, for instance, your child has an allergy which is triggered by the nappy. We have heard of cases where this has happened, and although it is possible to get a different product as a replacement, if this different nappy in more expensive they will be more strictly rationed.


Some trusts are faster than others at getting all the referrals and assessments together. The typical amount of time you might have to wait is probably around 3 months from making contact with your doctor to getting your first shipment. It can be faster.


In some cases the criteria are very strict and you might be denied help or find that the products supplied are not good enough. You can attempt to fight this but very often they won’t change their position. Many of our customers have come to us because of this situation.



Free Adult Nappies


Like with free children’s nappies on the NHS, getting products for adults involves meeting lots of different criteria in your local trust’s guidelines. These will probably include the need for you to have already got advice or an assessment from your GP or a continence advisor, and sometimes it might be necessary for you to have undergone or be in the process of a treatment plan. Some trusts will only provide free products in the case of severe or long-term incontinence.


One of the reasons for needing people to have tried different options before resorting to nappies or pads is that treatments such as bladder training can often remove the need for these products. Also, if your incontinence is caused by an underlying condition, it is extremely important that the treatment for this condition takes priority.


If you manage to get an allowance of free nappies from your PCT, you will find that (like with children) there will be restrictions on the number you can be given. You should receive the amount that your need requires, but unfortunately things don’t work out that way. Because of this, it is important to let your healthcare professionals. Either face to face, or via the Patient Advice and Liaison Service, these people need to know if you are not getting as many products as you need. This may not have an immediate effect but it is the only way they can see how widespread the problem is.


A lot of people find it necessary to buy their own products for a number of reasons. They might be on a waiting list for a referral, be going through treatment for an underlying condition or they might simply be buying extra products to make up the numbers if their free supply isn’t enough. Like with children you will have no choice in the brand of products and their quality might vary quite a lot.



Problems Accessing Continence Services


Apart from these problems we have mentioned to do with the user’s eligibility or the supply issues that come from the level of funding and demand that these products get, there are other things that you might need to know if you are thinking of trying to get nappies free on the NHS.


If you do manage to get your free nappies, they will usually be delivered in bulk to you. The time of delivery might not fit your schedule, and the minimum time before you are allowed to order a refill could be in the region of 2 months. At 4 or 5 nappies a day, a 2 month supply can take an awful lot of room so this is something to keep in mind.


Some people also find that the only products available to them are either unsuitable for their needs (but not unsuitable enough to let them have an alternative) or that their medical needs change between doctor’s visits.


Because the majority of the people who need incontinence products are small children, elderly or differently-abled, the available products are geared towards these people and we are often asked for products that fit a more active lifestyle since the NHS doesn’t fill that need. In short, the system we have in this country at the moment doesn’t let people very easily get the products they need.



Buying Nappies From A Private Supplier


If you can get incontinence products for free from the NHS then why do we exist?

  • We have a wide range of products so can often supply something that is more suitable for a particular person's needs.
  • We can deliver next day if you have run out of your usual supply.
  • We can supply higher quality products that you might prefer to use.
  • Some of our products are not available for free on the NHS (such as washable bed pads).
  • We listen to your needs and recommend only the right products for you.
  • If your allocated NHS supply isn't enough we can sell top-ups


Why not test our knowledge and give us a call on 01636 30 20 50

NHS Choices Free Incontinence Products

Quick Guide

  1. See Your GP for a referral to the NHS continence service
  2. Be assessed for your level of need and eligibility
  3. Be offered a choice of suitable products (sometimes)
  4. If approved, start receiving deliveries of your products
  5. Be regularly reassessed


  • Not everyone is entitled to free products in all areas
  • It can take up to 3 months for your free supply to start
  • Sometimes products are not adequate
  • Some areas are very restrictive in the number of produts they supply - you might not get enough
  • Be prepared to fight to get what you need - speak to PALS (Patient Advice Liaison Service) if you have issues

43 Comment(s)

02/07/2018, 06:10:02 PM

We currently have nappies through the nhs but are told size 7 is the biggest we can get - these are now too small for our son ! Surely they don’t just stop at size 7 ? Do you know of a supplier to the NHS at all that does bigger ones ?Thanks Mark

03/07/2018, 12:47:06 PM

Hi Mark


The Abena Abri Form Junior XS2 is the next step up. Your local continence team may not use Abena as a supplier but if you request that they get them in for you they should be able to. They might refuse on the first few tries but each organisation does have discretion to buy products outside their supply contracts.


You can buy them on our website to check if they work for you. Abena Abri Form Junior XS2


Thanks for commenting!



11/07/2018, 09:49:25 AM

We are a charatable community organisation currently meeting the needs of families through the supply of reusable nappies and sanitary products. We are looking at providing similar support to families and individuals with incontinence issues. Products would be reusable, which we believe to be a sustainable way of meeting your needs and the needs of the environment. We are interested in hearing from you about your individual needs and requirements and how we could best meet these. If you wish to contact us confidentally, search nwnccic on Facebook and drop us a private message.

Tina Silva:
14/06/2018, 10:01:04 PM

Hello: I am trying to locate a company that can help my aunt who is in Portugal in assisted living who is suffering from Alzheimer's & Parkinson's Disease. Her benefits do not cover the cost of adult diapers. Where can we go to get assistance to help? The Assisted Living facility charges per diaper. This is a huge burden on our Uncle who only receives limited funds.

18/06/2018, 08:23:06 AM

Hi TinaI really don't know what to suggest. Being UK based we know a little bit about how the UK system works, but I can't advise on overseas arrangements. Perhaps another blog reader can reply to your comment?

Piotr Grela:
18/04/2018, 04:41:15 AM

My and my wife are both wheelchairs-users. We also have a problem with incontinence since our childhood. My wife after a long battle was awarded with 2 pair pants per 1 day. But I was advised by a silly "specialist" (Eneberii Newham Incontinence Service - East London) not to thinking about my bladder. When I am outside and I am going in my special wheelchair I am thinking not thinking about bladder but I think how to drive on the pavement, not get hit by a car or rob by thugs. There is another problem more and more especially council toilets are closed.

02/01/2018, 03:05:04 PM

HiI know pads and nappies for people who need it are expencive. My child is nearly 8yrs and in nappies due to medical condition. It does mean I spend a lot on incontinence products and go with out other non essential things. How ever my child needs these and I feel it's my duty to provide for my child. To look after and love and care. So I have budgeted that into my essential list and work hard to make sure all goes smoothly. I would not have had children if I did not want to care for them and put them first. If my child needs them I get them. I work during school hours as just would not want to be a lazy , A good role model I had when I grew up. I am a full time carer any other time and do it all alone. The reason why I share this is it's not impossible to live life normally , disability need not take over are live's it can work together. It's essential need these pads so I just buy them as and when required.thanks

02/04/2018, 10:26:00 PM

hi zarayes disposables can be expensive, i suffer from incontinance myself, to save a lot of costs i use cloth nappies & plastic pants around the house & just use disposables if im going out, its saved me countless £s , when they get used i just throw the cloth nappies in the washer & then the drier, simple & cheap

abrar Ahmed:
27/10/2017, 12:36:08 PM

Good afternoon, My son is 4 years and 3 months old. He has been diagnoised with ASD. He is still learning and is not potty trained. We use size 6 of nappies which is not too small. I need advise if we can get free nappies of his size from Council. We live in Greenwich council area. regards Abrar

22/05/2018, 03:34:04 PM

Hi Abrar, Your best option would be to consult your local GP, they will refer you onto your local incontinence team if your son is eligible for free nappies. I hope this helps.

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