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Disabled woman, 30, wet herself in River Island after staff refused toilet access

Bianca Artwell, 30, was left crying because of the incident (Picture: SWNS)

A mum who has a rare condition which makes her incontinent was forced to wet herself in the middle of River Island after staff didn’t let her use the toilet.

Bianca Artwell, 30 and from Rugby in Warwickshire, suffers from a condition which affects her nervous system called Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

This means Bianca has symptoms including weakness or paralysis, tremors or tics, difficulty walking, loss of balance, and incontinence.

Bianca said she was returning a pair of her three-year-old daughter’s shoes last week at River Island in Elliott’s Field Retail Park in Rugby.

When she arrived at the tills Bianca realised she needed the toilet, something she cannot control because of her FND.

But when she asked staff if she could use the toilet they didn’t let her because they claimed it was against company policy.

She was told by the store manager to go to the toilet at a cafe across the road but as she was leaving the store Bianca wet herself.

Instead of helping the mum, staff allegedly put a ‘wet floor’ sign next to her.

River Island announced in a statement it would be reviewing its customer care policies following the incident.

Recalling how she was left feeling, Bianca said: ‘I’ve never in my life been treated in such a cold manner. Left in the doorway of a shop with a sign directing people to look at the freak show, with no covering or support.

‘I’ve previously worked in retail for years and there are characteristics that are exempt from this such as elderly, pregnant women, children and those with disabilities.

‘Is it policy to further fail a customer after an accident like this by offering no compassion, no dignity or treating them like a human being?’

Bianca was hurt to discover none of the staff were there to offer support during the moment she had an accident.

What is Functional Neurological Disorder?

According to the NHS, Functional Neurological Disorder includes neurological symptoms that are genuine, but not due to a disease of the nervous system.

They are called functional symptoms because they affect the ‘function’ of the body rather than being caused by damage to the ‘structure’.

This problem has been around for a long time – for most of history it was called ‘hysteria’ a condition once thought only to afflict women, although in actuality it is common in men as well.

However not all patients experience significant psychological problems. A lot of patients just have an accident or a period of illness and then get functional symptoms afterwards.

These symptoms are common, affecting around a third of people attending neurology outpatient clinics.

They can resolve quickly and of their own accord, and sometimes a clear, reassuring explanation and some time is all a patient needs to get better.

‘I turned to the three staff members on the till and explained I was really sorry but I had had an accident.

‘They just stared at me and the manager who was getting ready to leave instructed them to put a wet floor sign down.

‘I stood there frozen in complete horror.

‘A staff member came up to me but instead of offering to help she just dropped the wet floor sign next to me and walked away.

‘Stood in shock I assumed she must be coming back but instead she and her colleagues carried on their conversation.

‘The manager even walked past me and shouted bye to her colleagues and just looked at me in my mess and left the premises.

‘As other customers arrived, walking past me and my wet floor sign, it finally occurred that this was my problem and the staff weren’t going to help me in any way.

‘No offer of going to a changing room, no offer of tissues, no offer of other clothing or even an “are you okay?”’

‘I was left crying my eyes out.’

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