Vaginal mesh implants to fix prolapse should be banned says health watchdog body

NICE is set to recommend that vaginal prolapse mesh is banned

NICE is set to recommend that vaginal prolapse mesh is banned - Credit: Archant

Vaginal implants to fix prolapse should be banned according to a ruling by a watchdog body that the NHS look to for guidance on healthcare.

NICE is set to recommend that operations using controversial plastic mesh devices be stopped in a ruling to be officially announced on December 20.

The guidelines say the mesh implants should only be used for research and not routine operations - campaigners have welcomed what they say is a back door ban.

Patient safety campaign group Sling The Mesh, which has 4,400 members, said: “These are not infrequent complications. They are common, serious and a personal tragedy for every woman involved.

“The NHS, Government and MHRA are in institutional denial about the number suffering.”

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NICE said there were “serious but well-recognised safety concerns” and that “evidence of long-term efficacy [for implants treating organ prolapse] is inadequate in quality and quantity”.

It added that “when complications occur, these can be serious and have life-changing consequences”.

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Guidelines on the mesh sling tapes to treat incontinence, and prolapse placed via the stomach, are due out in 2019.

MP Owen Smith and Emma Hardy are calling for those guidelines to be published earlier amid concerns from hundreds of patients across Britain.

Some implants can cut into the vagina, nerves, tissue, bladders, bowels and wombs.

Women have been left in permanent crippling pain, unable to walk, work or have sex.

Surgeons do not have to act on findings it receives from NICE but insurers look at surgical decisions based on NICE rulings.

The mesh implants are made of polypropylene and manufactured by different companies.

The main brand used in England are those by Johnson and Johnson.

They are used to support weakened tissue that causes incontinence or prolapse often caused by childbirth.

MP Emma Hardy said all mesh implants need to be suspended while the NHS carries out a retrospective audit to find out the true number suffering.

And while the MHRA says women need to report to their Yelllow Card scheme, MP Emma Hardy said many have never heard of it.

Many are ignored by their GP when they ask for help with problems they suspect are caused by mesh implants, she added.

Around 500 women in the UK are involved in a group action with lawyers Wedlake Bell against mesh makers Johnson and Johnson.

• Sling The Mesh has found that many surgeons claim they don’t use mesh but are using tape. Campaigners say it is a tape made of plastic mesh so by denying this they are breaking patient consent guidelines.

• Many surgeons insist they “don’t use that mesh in the media” because they implant their prolapse mesh through the tummy (transabdominally) and not vaginally. But the implant ends up in the same position - the vaginal vault - and patient experience on Sling The Mesh shows the issues are just as grave whether it is placed vaginally or abdominally.

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