Hordes of placard-waving protesters, campaigners dressed as hounds and foxes, “choirs” belting out a list of demands – Scotland’s MSPs may think they have seen it all when protesters descend on Holyrood.
But next month they’ll be confronted by a physiotherapist, who also performs as a stand-up comedian, dressed as a giant, talking, sparkly vagina, bringing her award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Gusset Grippers to the Scottish Parliament, lobbying for a health campaign promoting pelvic floor exercises.
Elaine Miller, who has more than 20 years experience working in NHS Scotland, wants a campaign, using humour, shown on television, in cinemas and social media, and taken into workplaces, communities and secondary schools.
Miller, 46, from Blackhall, Edinburgh, said: “I get really frustrated when I see people who have struggled for years, if not decades with continence problems, something which can lead to relationships breaking down and families splitting up.
“This is big public health crisis. Yet there is high success rate if people are taught to do the exercises properly.
“Around one in three women and one in nine men have problems but approximately 80 per cent can be cured with six exercise sessions.
“But instead the NHS is wasting money dealing with the after-effects.”
Pelvic floor muscles stretch like a “hammock” supporting a woman’s bladder, womb and bowel. If not kept in shape these organs can drop down.
The event on 21 November is being sponsored by Lothian Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a lead campaigner in the mesh implant scandal whereby many women were left in constant pain after the controversial incontinence treatment.
“Incontinence is an issue affecting so many women – it has a huge impact on their personal wellbeing, their career, social life and their relationships,” Findlay said.
“I hope by using humour to break down barriers and taboos this show helps highlight such a common condition that is not discussed openly.”
Last week Alex Cole-Hamilton, MSP, Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman called for a national continence strategy.
Groups attending the event include the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Midwives, health visitors, the union Unite and the Lothian and Scottish Mesh Survivors Group.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “NHS boards already provide services to promote continence and provide dedicated support to patients where appropriate.”