Sling The Mesh campaign: worrying lack of surgeons who have enough experience to remove it when it goes wrong

PUBLISHED: 16:34 25 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:34 25 July 2015

A piece of polypropylene TVT mesh showing tiny blue particles that can break off before or during insertion for an oepration to cure incontinence

A piece of polypropylene TVT mesh showing tiny blue particles that can break off before or during insertion for an oepration to cure incontinence

Archant

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Sling The Mesh campaign logoSling The Mesh campaign logo

Women are now having to wait up to eight months to have the corrective surgery needed if their TVT, TVTO mesh sling or prolapse mesh operation goes wrong.

Since reporter Kath Sansom launched Sling The Mesh she has spoken on the phone or via email to 80 women who have been suffering, some since 2002, not realising the pain was related to their mesh.

More than 630 have joined the Facebook site which launched six weeks ago.

As more women ask their GP to be referred to specialists for removal the wait time is likely to get longer.

In anticipation of the increase, a campaigner contacted Professor Keith Willett, director for acute episodes of care at NHS England and chairman of the English Group Working Party, into the serious concerns of transvaginal mesh asking him to provide names of surgeons who could help.

The query was also passed to the chairman of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, Roland Morley, who gave the names of four surgeons.

He said they were working on a comprehensive list but that would not be available until at least April 2016.

None of the four recommended surgeons have removed 20 meshes a year which is the NHS guideline on how many operations must be performed in a year to be seen as proficient.

One of the recommended surgeons, Professor Chapple of Sheffield told the campaigner: “I will not remove all of your mesh because that would do more harm than good.”

Another, Jeremy Ockrim of London said: “I have removed five meshes this year and have another three cases pending at present. These numbers have been fairly consistent over the last years although they may change in the future.”

Tamsin Greenwell of London said: “I am able to and have taken out TVT in their entirety but have not removed a TVTO type tape in its entirety as this would be extremely destructive and I have not seen a lady as yet in whom our MDT felt this was indicated.”

Secretary for Neil Harris of Leeds said: “He does not do at least 20 of these procedures per year. It is highly unlikely that any urological surgeon would as the situation is not that common.”

The leading two surgeons in England who can successfully remove tape are Natalia Price and Sohier Elneil who remove around 400 a year between them.

To go private to speed up the wait costs around £11,000.