Counting the cost of mesh - women send us their monthly medication and the cost to the NHS is shocking

PUBLISHED: 18:17 10 November 2017

One womans medication for a month to try and control the pain and complications. PHOTO: Harry Rutter

One womans medication for a month to try and control the pain and complications. PHOTO: Harry Rutter

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Women suffering mesh problems are costing the NHS a fortune in medication for pain and infections as well as countless GP appointments, A&E admissions scans and tests.

One womans medication for a month to try and control the pain and complications. PHOTO: Harry Rutter One womans medication for a month to try and control the pain and complications. PHOTO: Harry Rutter

The plastic surgical mesh implants, used to treat incontinence and prolapse, were phased in from 1997 and promoted as a cheap quick fix.

But campaigners say the cost of treating women who go on to have complications is a much higher financial figure in the long term with countless prescriptions for life in a bid to manage pain, alongside visits to doctors and outpatient treatments.

A&E trips include women unable to urinate, who go into retention and become at risk of sepsis.

Women whose GPs agree to refer them for full mesh removal surgery, cost the NHS up to £12,000, with costly follow ups.

Sling The Mesh campaign asked women to send in their medication for a month to get an idea of the personal and financial costs when mesh goes wrong.

They include:

• A paramedic who had a TVT incontinence mesh tape in February 2017. Medication to ease nerve damage and pain costs £186 a month. Among it is self catheterisation sticks as since the operation she has not been able to go to the toilet again properly.

• An NHS admin who had a TVT incontinence mesh tape in 2004. She has reduced her full time hours to a lower grade at part time in order to cope. Her medication costs £180 a month and includes a faecal irrigation pump.

• A woman who had a TOT incontinence mesh tape in 2010 and has had 13 operations to try to remove it. Her pain is so bad she has tried to take her own life. She has lost her marriage, her job and her quality of life. The pain in her pelvic area and private parts is so bad that 24/7 it feels like she is being knifed and has burning hot broken glass inside her.

• A woman had a TVTO incontinence mesh in 2010. When it failed she was given another mesh, a TVT in 2016. Her pain is so bad she struggles to walk and sit. Her medication costs £140.52 a month.

• A woman who had a sacrocolpopexy mesh in 1999 and a posterior mesh repair in 2001. She works as a housing officer but is now part time because of excrutiating pain. Her medication costs £95.79 a month.

• A former NHS admin who lived a healthy, active lifestyle but now struggles with pain walking. She had a TVT incontinence mesh in 2006. Her medication costs £78.70 a month.

• One woman sent a pack of lidocaine plasters costing £72.40 a month, used in addition to a range of other nerve blockers and pain relieving tablets.

• Others sent Ovestin cream, given to thicken vaginal walls during menopause. Women are prescribed this when the plastic mesh tape slices through vaginal walls. Surgeons tell women this cream will fix their problems.

• One woman, who had prolapse mesh in 2002, sent a sample irrigation kit. Mesh has injured her insides so badly she struggles to empty her bowels and she now needs to pump herself rather than have her bowel removed in a colostomy operation.

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