You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Surgeon is criticised for dismissing the scale of women's suffering in the mesh implant scandal
PUBLISHED: 20:26 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 20:26 02 February 2018
A warning has been sent to the medical community to pull their heads out of the sand after a surgeon dismissed the mesh implant scandal as a small minority suffering.
Professor Carl Heneghan, an expert in evidence based medicine, told a Parliamentary think tank that surgeon societies need to: “stop pretending it’s alright.”
The stark warning came as criticism was levelled at medical giant Johnson and Johnson, who flew surgeons to America en masse to train them in mesh insertion in the early days of its use.
The scale of the disaster was measured by MP Owen Smith who told a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group into mesh: “We have women coming to us in greater numbers than any other procedure historically we’ve known.”
Surgeons Linda Cardozo and Tim Hillard were invited to represent 6,000 members of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to speak to MPs about the escalating implant scandal.
But after hearing them urge MPs against a mesh ban, Professor Heneghan said: “I feel deeply distressed about the way the conversation is going.
“When the metal hip crisis became apparent the difference was the Orthopaedic Society pulled their head out of the sand and dealt with it, you are not doing that.
“You need to do the right thing. There’s things you need to clarify. How does the Department of health put patient safety first?
“You’re talking about developing evidence, yet for 15 years you’ve had the opportunity to build evidence, yet you haven’t.”
Ms Cardozo, who works for King’s, London, currently in special measures, said you could not make an omelette without breaking a few eggs and said a lot of the problems blamed on mesh were things women would get anyway as they aged.
She added: “I have used a significant number of tapes for high profile women who have never come forward (with problems), they are very famous women.
“There is a skewed view of the women who regard themselves as victims. Much of the fuelling of the fire comes from the press, for example, the Daily Mail saying it’s barbaric.
“Sometimes we do get it wrong but we can’t know who that is going to happen to.
“It’s a very sad state of affairs when doctor practice is being guided by the press.
“I think choice is important. By banning, it will disadvantage others,” she said and added it was only a “small minority who suffer.”
Ms Cardozo said mesh use must continue in the interests of patient choice but women should be logged on a National Register.
When told many women suffering had been given no warning of the risks Ms Cardozo admitted that surgeons have “been guilty of glossing over consent because we were busy.”
More concerning was that she said she would fly in the face of NICE guidelines to use vaginal prolapse mesh if a woman presented to her with particular criteria.
Surgeon John Osborne said: “Large numbers of people were taken to the states to be trained in TVT. That sort of marketing should not be happening.”
Surgeon Wael Agur closed the meeting with a stern message: “If you don’t have mesh you don’t have mesh complications. It’s Russian roulette. No woman has a blue badge on their car because of a native tissue repair. Mesh risks are unacceptable.”