Government to publish review on mesh implants following a March mum’s campaign

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2020

A two year review into the use of mesh implants to treat incontinence and other health conditions will be published next week. Kath Sansom (L), from March, launched the 'Sling the Mesh' campaign group in 2015.

A two year review into the use of mesh implants to treat incontinence and other health conditions will be published next week. Kath Sansom (L), from March, launched the 'Sling the Mesh' campaign group in 2015.

Archant

A government review into the use of surgical mesh implants will be released next week, five years after a March mum launched a campaign to raise awareness of patients experiencing complications from the procedure.

Baroness Cumberlge talks to BBC News Online during the review in BelfastBaroness Cumberlge talks to BBC News Online during the review in Belfast

Surgeons had been using mesh to treat conditions such as stress incontinence and prolapse in women, but for some the side effects have been devastating and life changing.

Hundreds of women across the country came forwards to participate in the government review, which is being led by Baroness Julia Cumberledge and has taken two years to complete.

Former Cambs Times journalist Kath Sansom, who founded the ‘Sling the Mesh’ campaign group whilst with this newspaper, said: “Whatever is said in the report when it comes out, it is with great sadness that this procedure has ruined many women’s lives.”

In July 2018, vaginal mesh surgery specifically to treat stress urinary incontinence was immediately suspended in England unless a set of specific conditions were met.

Victims pictured outside the House of Commons when the mesh scandal was debated in parliament. PHOTO: Harry Rutter.Victims pictured outside the House of Commons when the mesh scandal was debated in parliament. PHOTO: Harry Rutter.

The conditions were:

• Only appropriately trained surgeons could perform operations for stress urinary incontinence;

• Every procedure is logged into a national database which links to any reports of complications to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency;

• Specialist centres for removing mesh were established; and

Kath Sansom being interviewed by Sky News at Parliament Green. Sling The Mesh. PHOTO: Harry RutterKath Sansom being interviewed by Sky News at Parliament Green. Sling The Mesh. PHOTO: Harry Rutter

• Guidelines about the use of mesh were published.

On Wednesday (July 8), the medical community and campaigners will find out if any or all of these conditions have been met.

Kath said: “We really don’t know what is going to happen, and our members are nervous about the publication of this much-anticipated review.

“It has been two years since the use of mesh for stress incontinence was suspended in the UK, and as a campaign group, we have been waiting a long time for our voices to be heard.”

She added: “Hundreds, if not thousands, of healthy women have been harmed by an operation they thought was going to help them and an embarrassing condition they were suffering with.

“Instead, they’ve been left with health problems that not only affect them for life but have had a devastating impact on their families as well.”

Since its launch in 2015, Sling the Mesh’s Facebook page has grown to almost 8,200 members, mainly women, from around the world.

They share experieces of their complications which include chronic pain, difficulties walking or sitting, allergic reactions and auto immune conditions.

Seven in 10 women in Sling The Mesh have lost their sex life and one in 20 have attempted or seriously considered suicide because of the pain they’re suffering. More than half report suffering depression.

A more targeted survey of more than 800 women show complications usually emerge from between five and 10 years after the procedure.

Kath explained many members ask for advice on mesh removal surgeons, because their implanting surgeon ignored the complications being described to them.

“After all these years our hope is our voices will finally be heard,” Kath said.


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