Campaigners celebrate as the Department of Health agrees to carry out a wide reaching audit into mesh complications

A Parliamentary think tank meets after the Department of Health agreed to carry out a retrospective

A Parliamentary think tank meets after the Department of Health agreed to carry out a retrospective audit into mesh complications - Credit: Archant

The Government has agreed to carry out a national audit to determine the extent of problems caused by women’s mesh implants.

The news is being celebrated by campaigners who say that finally the voices of women whose lives have been ruined are being heard.

The Department of Health and Social Care has today announced it accepts the case made by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Surgical Mesh Implants and campaigners to conduct the retrospective audit into vaginal mesh surgery.

This comes after a series of meetings with the Minister for Health, Lord O’Shaughnessy, and is one of four key demands.

MP Owen Smith, chairman of the APPG on surgical mesh implants, said: “Over the last two years I’ve been urging ministers to conduct an investigation to fully determine problems related to mesh surgery.

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“I’m delighted that the government has listened to our concerns and has now agreed to undertake this audit to get a better understanding of complications related to mesh surgery.

“I hope the audit will provide crucial answers about the proportion of women adversely affected by mesh surgery.”

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Kath Sansom, founder of Sling the Mesh, said: “After two decades of mesh use with poor audit, the Government is finally hearing the voices of women whose lives have changed beyond repair.

“A survey of 570 women in Sling The Mesh shows a third have suffered mesh slice into their vagina or organs and eight out of ten have pain walking or sitting.

“Six out of ten have lost partners because of the strain while seven out of ten have lost sex lives. A third have had to give up work because of pain. Not surprisingly six out of ten suffer depression and anxiety.

“It is time this damage stopped. There are no long term studies that truly capture the level of suffering, women are ignored and belittled by surgeons who do not log problems on any database, women are on the brink of suicide. And all for an operation that was not life saving but was supposed to improve quality of life.”

A survey conducted by the 5,300 strong group Sling The Mesh shows that more than eight out of ten women were not warned of risks.

Kath said: “We have heard of surgeons who tell patients the implant is like a soft ribbon, another says it hugs the bladder like a teddy bear, others deny it is mesh and insist it is tape, some say it is not polypropylene it is plastic yet that is the same thing.

“The truth its it is a harsh piece of plastic in the most private part of a woman’s body and when it goes wrong it causes total devastation.”

The Department of Health and Social Care audit will help the NHS better understand complications related to surgery using mesh for incontinence and prolapse.

The audit involves linking data on patients’ conditions and the type of surgery to subsequent hospital treatment and consultations in the NHS. Once those data have been gathered and analysed, they will be published by the Department.

The work is expected to be completed by April.

The study will provide the most accurate data possible about how many women in England have had mesh implanted, and how many have experienced problems after surgery.

NHS England estimates more than 100,000 women have been operated on using mesh and that complications affect between 3-5 per cent of cases. However campaigners say serious complications occur for at least one in ten.

The announcement comes ahead of an APPG meeting this evening in Parliament, where MPs from all political parties will meet with Kath and fellow campaigners alongside clinicians.

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