Mesh implants are like ‘skewering women with kebab sticks’ and there is no reliable system to log problems

BAUS conference 2017 Chris Harding speaks on the problems of under reporting of mesh surgery outcome

BAUS conference 2017 Chris Harding speaks on the problems of under reporting of mesh surgery outcomes - Credit: Archant

Surgeons are not logging mesh implant problems which means thousands of women suffer in silence with no figures to prove it, it has been revealed.

MP Norman Lamb promised in 2013 that there would be better reporting and long term data of mesh comp

MP Norman Lamb promised in 2013 that there would be better reporting and long term data of mesh complications. Campaigners say that in 2017 they are still waiting.PHOTO: Pexels - Credit: Archant

As few as four out of ten surgeons log problems. Among the reasons for not doing so are that they are “chaotic” or cannot work out how to use the system.

The issue was discussed in a national conference where among logging fails one consultant said he was “frightened” to implant two types of pelvic mesh because it was like “skewering women with kebab sticks.” (53.4).

Campaigners have warned for years about the lack of long term monitoring, globally, which means nobody knows the true scale of what has been called the biggest health disaster since the morning sickness drug thalidomide by an Australian politician.

The revelation makes a mockery of a pledge by MP Norman Lamb in 2013 when he promised Parliament that the Department of Health was working to improve arrangements to report complications.

Chris Harding, urologist, said: “There are some surgeons, some units that don’t enter any data.

“From the NHS English mesh review, the thing that was really lacking in the literature - and we couldn’t find it when we went and looked - was long term data,” he said at the 2017 British Association of Urology Surgeons (BAUS) conference. (1:33:35)

He added that surgeons input their own results: “Which has got a significant risk of bias. This is not high level evidence.” (1:25)

One surgeon admitted he didn’t report as he was “chaotic” while another said he could not work out how to use the logging system. (1:26)

Another said: “When you look at the BSUG database there’ll be a few nervous gynaecologists, with all the tape cases coming to court.”

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The BSUG wrote to surgeons in a newsletter in 2014 and said they must provide stress incontinence auditing from 2013 in response to concerns about lack of data.

Three years later in 2017, however, those figures have not been published.

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The British Society of Urogynaecologists (BSUG) said less than four out of ten of their surgeons log outcomes.

The British Association of Urology Surgeons (BAUS) said around six out of ten of their members logged outcomes - but their database only follows women for three months, so if problems hit, for example, a year down the line, these patients will not show up in official records.

In December 2013, a Hansard report shows that MP Norman Lamb told Liverpool MP Luciana Berger: “We acknowledge there is considerable under reporting of complications.

“There are currently no plans in place to introduce mandatory reporting of medical device adverse incidents by health care professionals, however the situation is under constant review to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to facilitate the reporting of adverse incidents from all sources.”

In 2014 a Hansard report reveals that Mr Lamb told Easington MP Graeme Morris there was collaborative working to ensure better reporting of complications.

In 2017, campaigners say it appears those systems are still not in place.

• Sling The Mesh goes to Parliament on Tuesday July 18 in a lobby led by MP Owen Smith, shadow Northern Ireland secretary.

• More than 80 women and their families are attending along with surgeons and a professor who went undercover to get orange fruit netting approved as a vaginal mesh implant to prove how weak the regulatory system is for medical devices.

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