MSPs given evidence over side-effects of Mesh Implants

3 June 2014 Last updated at 00:25

Mesh implants campaigners give evidence to MSPs

Women who suffered “life-changing side effects” after receiving surgical implants are preparing to give evidence to a committee of MSPs.

The Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign is urging the Scottish government to suspend all such implant surgery pending a safety inquiry.

They also want mandatory reporting of adverse cases and a new register of implants.

Members of the campaign will put their case to Holyrood’s petitions committee.

‘Constant pain’

About 1,500 women in Scotland receive transvaginal mesh implants every year, usually to treat a prolapsed bladder and relieve incontinence, often as a result of childbirth.

However, some have been left in constant pain after the implants hardened, and have been told they can never have sex again.

In March, women who were injured by the implants spoke to BBC’s health correspondent Eleanor Bradford, about how their lives had been affected.

Shona Trainer received a mesh implant in 2011 and said she has been in “constant pain from the waist down” ever since, despite having surgery four times.

Another woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she rarely left the house and was unable to have sex, which had “taken a toll” on her marriage.

Studies looking at the safety of the implants have found varying levels of failure and complications, but a review by the UK-wide Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency concluded the benefits still outweighed the risks.

Hundreds of claims are due before the Scottish courts within the next year, with cases already under way in the US and Canada, where the authorities have issued warnings to hospitals.

Lawyers have said that more women may have been injured by mesh implants than faulty PIP breast implants, and are pursuing compensation from a manufacturer of one of the implants and doctors who prescribed the procedure without properly informing women of the risks.

New leaflet

An expert group set up by the Scottish government to look at the issue met for the first time in February.

The group is developing a revised information leaflet for use in the NHS in Scotland, which will be given to women in advance of undergoing the procedure.

It is aimed at ensuring women have better information about the use of mesh in order to be in a position to give fully informed consent.

However, Olive McIlroy from Scottish Mesh Survivors said she wants ministers to go further.

She said: “In a nutshell, we are asking for mesh implant surgery to be suspended pending a safety inquiry, for reporting of adverse incidents to be mandatory for doctors – currently only 12 have reported cases to the MHRA despite more than 300 women undergoing repeated operations.

“[We] want an implant register to act as an early warning system as the current system is clearly not working.

“The women have been working on new consent forms which will contain all the complications. One of the big problems has been that the women were not given proper advice before they got the operations.

“They weren’t told the life changing side effects and they were not offered alternatives. We have some of the world’s top docs writing to Health Secretary Alex Neil asking him to stop mesh in our hospitals.”

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