'This is a massive medical scandal'- Surgeons accused of putting on pressure to lift vaginal mesh suspension
PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 April 2019
Surgeons have been accused of piling on the pressure to reinstate controversial pelvic mesh implants in what is being called a ‘massive medical scandal.’
Owen Smith, MP, told the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show that too many women were given the implant for relatively minor problems and at too young an age.
And he feared that writers of new guidelines into how to treat of incontinence and prolapse had been “got at.”
Speaking on the BBC show this week Mr Smith, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group into mesh, said: “NICE are burying their heads in the sand.
“I think they have been got at by the medical profession.
“I think the Royal Colleges and clinicians who have been putting mesh into women are absolutely determined to defend it, not least because there will be liabilities associated with it being proven to be mis sold.”
Owen added: “It is a massive scandal. These devices were over sold by the companies to the medical profession as a quick fix.
“They were implanted into thousands of women who didn’t need it. Many of them were far too young for such a radical surgery for relatively minor problems.
“We’ve got a wide scale global crisis.”
This week NICE issued new guidelines which said mesh could be used again following a suspension, once five other checks are put in place.
Owen said: “I am deeply disappointed that the updated guidelines appear to disregard mesh-injured women’s experiences by stating that there is no long-term evidence of adverse effects.
“Thousands of women have faced life-changing injuries following mesh surgery and they must not be ignored.”
Kath Sansom of Sling The Mesh vowed to keep fighting and said she is taking legal advice on the new guidelines.
She is also seeking to put pressure on the Government for a 20 year review of every single woman in the UK who has had a mesh implant.
“The NHS holds this data, it is just a case of trawling it,” she said.
“Women are appalled that these guidelines are no different from what was published in 2003.
“They are so weak, they clear the way for our daughters and grand daughters to be harmed.
“Our Sling The Mesh survey shows 1 in 20 women have attempted suicide and more than half have regular suicidal thoughts because of chronic pain, loss of sex life, constant infections and auto immune disease.
“These are unacceptable risks from what is sold as a simple fix. If a men’s operation was creating this level of harm it would have been stopped a long time ago.”
Margie Maguire turned to mesh surgery to treat prolapse after the birth of her daughter.
Following the surgery she had two miscarriages and suffered severe and hospitalising pain attacks.
She has since had most of the mesh removed and, while the pain has lessened, she remains reliant on a mobility scooter and a number of home adaptations, such as a stair lift.
Margie said she was “shocked, appalled and extremely disappointed” by NICE’s guidelines.
She said: “By definition, NICE is supposed to strive for ‘excellence’, but any organisation that is content to allow these surgeries to continue, despite the serious and life-changing side effects that they can cause, is anything but ‘excellent’.
“To think that more people may have mesh surgery and face the life-changing complications I have suffered is wrong.”
Linda Millband, lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We know, from those for whom we act, the devastating legacy that mesh has left on families and communities across the UK.
“This isn’t ‘clinical excellence’, this is passing the buck.”
Earlier this year, health and social care minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, acknowledged there had been a failure in the regulation of medical devices like mesh and encouraged women to sue their surgeons.