Outcry by Peterborough MP as Government refuses to suspend controversial women’s mesh implants

Fiona Onasanya, MP for Peterborough

Fiona Onasanya, MP for Peterborough - Credit: Archant

Fears for the long term safety of women’s mesh implants are growing as MPs joined a three hour debate in the House of Commons where Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya slammed their use as “horrendous”.

Emma Hardy, vice chari of the all party parliamentary group into surgical mesh

Emma Hardy, vice chari of the all party parliamentary group into surgical mesh - Credit: Archant

The first Parliamentary debate into the plastic devices heard ministers from all parties tell devastating stories of women being ignored, belittled and left to suffer life changing consequences from the material used to support weakened pelvic tissues causing incontinence or prolapse.

Calls were made by Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, for women to receive compensation in what she called a “wild west” of device regulation where implants were rushed to market for profit.

The debate also heard of men and women suffering hernia and rectopexy mesh complications.

Despite “ghastly complications” and shattered lives, health minister Jackie Doyle Price said the Government would not suspend mesh implants while a review is carried out into it’s long term safety.

MP Owen Smith, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group into surgical mesh, says every other wo

MP Owen Smith, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group into surgical mesh, says every other woman given mesh needs treatment for complications - Credit: Archant

Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya said: “If we are hearing from women who have had mesh implants that they are not working, that they have destroyed their lives and they have debilitating painful consequences, why on earth would we try to justify not suspending the use of this mesh? It is horrendous.”

In a letter from Theresa May Fiona was told the benefits of vaginal mesh implants outweigh the risks.

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Fiona said: “How can it be that people who have gone in for a day’s surgery and come out thinking, ‘my life’s going to be better —I can rock climb, mountain bike and run with my kids,’ find that they cannot move and are in constant pain?”

The controversy surrounding the use of surgical mesh debate was led by Emma Hardy MP, vice chair of the all party group on surgical mesh.

It took place just two days after the Government produced new statistics which show approximately 500 in every 13,000 women implanted with mesh are re-operated on within a decade to have it removed.

Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence based medicine at the University of Oxford, said the figures show the number of women going to outpatient clinics with mesh problems has cost the NHS a staggering £245 million in nine years.

It was the sort of treatment numbers you would expect to see among patients with multiple health problems, not among relatively young women who had been given a day case “simple” surgery, he said.

His analysis also shows women need more appointments as each year passes after-surgery, proving women get worse as time goes on, he added.

The reverse would normally be seen after successful surgery, he said.

More than 127,000 women in England have had a mesh patch or sling tape operation in the last nine years, but campaigners say that number is vastly under estimated, as NHS figures published this week miss off 10 years of data, miss private hospital information and do not include women from Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

In addition, it does not include women only going to their local GP for medication.

Owen Smith MP, chair of the APPG on surgical mesh said: ‘These statistics show the scale and complexity of the problems associated with mesh is far greater than has previously been accepted.

“It cannot be right that so many women are having to return repeatedly to hospital to deal with the side-effects caused by mesh, and it cannot be cost-effective for the NHS either.

“In light of these statistics, the Government has now called in Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, to investigate, in addition to the appointment of Baroness Julia Cumberledge just weeks ago to look at how the scandal has been handled.

“They now need to suspend the use of mesh until the results of these twin investigations are known.”

Emma Hardy MP, said: “The Government should urgently review the financial consequences of dealing with failed mesh procedures and consider introducing post-natal pelvic floor physiotherapy for all new mothers on the NHS.

“That is standard in France, and in light of the shocking new analysis which reveals the cost of botched mesh ops, our Government should bring forward a similar programme to both support the health and wellbeing of new mothers and to save NHS money in the longer term.”

• Read the Hansard copy of the debate here.

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