The mesh scandal is ‘institutional denial’ says lawyer following Parliamentary speech saying mesh injured women cost the NHS hundreds of thousands in long term care
- Credit: Archant
Sling The Mesh made it to the budget speeches in Parliament this week when MP Emma Hardy spoke of the Government’s short sightedness on the vaginal mesh implant scandal.
Lawyers leading a group action of 500 women, against mesh manufacturers Johnson and Johnson, backed up her plea for a suspension and retrospective audit, saying those with the power to do something are burying their heads in the sand.
David Golten, of Wedlake Bell, said: “It is institutional denial. This cannot go on.”
During her budget speech in Parliament Ms Hardy said women cost the NHS a fortune in pain medication, GP appointments, A&E visits, scans, tests and removals.
Many work reduced hours and claim benefits, which means that in the long term, this cheap quick fix costs much more.
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Speaking in the debate in the Commons on Thursday (24), Ms Hardy, MP for Kingston Upon Hull West and Hessle, said: “The short-sightedness of the Government’s continued addiction to austerity is astounding.
“The Government clearly have little understanding of cause and effect.
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“Transvaginal mesh has been used to treat stress incontinence on the NHS for 20 years. Prolapse mesh has been used on the NHS since 2002.
“This week, representatives of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on surgical mesh implants met campaigners from Sling the Mesh.
“During the meeting, Kath Sansom illustrated the cost of mesh failure to the NHS.
“Mesh-injured women face the long-term costs of pain medication and removals, but no one has yet realised the extent of the increased health costs because of our fragmented NHS.
“Mesh-injured women are an unplanned extra cost to an NHS budget that is already over stretched.
“Many mesh-injured women suffer chronic pain and urinary infections. Many have leg pain, ranging from moderate to severe.
“Some are in wheelchairs, or using sticks to help them to walk. Risks are serious, they are forever, and they are devastating. Many of these women claim benefits.
“Some work reduced hours and claim working family tax credit, while others receive personal independence payments or other disability benefits.”
• Joanne is an NHS administrator. She costs the NHS £180 a month, and in 11 years her care has cost £55,000.
• Jemima went from being super-fit to sometimes using a stick to walk, and is in daily agonising pain. She has to irrigate her bowel daily using special equipment costing £900 a year in addition to pain medication costing around £135 a month. “Mesh has sliced her insides so badly that she knows that, at some point, her bowel will have to be removed. She is delaying that by using a special kit to pump herself out every day.”
Health minister, Jackie Doyle Price, dismissed calls for a mesh suspension and retrospective audit, during a Westminster Hall debate in October because she said she thought it was more important that women get the treatment.
Ms Doyle Price encouraged everybody to report their cases through the Yellow Card scheme.
Ms Hardy dismissed that response saying: “Most women are not aware of the Yellow Card scheme, and have no idea how to use it.
“We need a retrospective audit on mesh so that the NHS can gather the necessary evidence of the scale of the injuries suffered by those who have had mesh fitted.
“The refusal to fund and commission such an audit is incredibly short-sighted. More women are having this operation every day, and the level of risk is unknown.
“We could be adding astronomical costs to our NHS daily as a result of future mesh failure. However, the costs of mesh failure are not just to the NHS; they are to all our public services.
“Some mesh-injured women need supported housing because of their disabilities. Many of them are suffering from both depression and anxiety, which adds more pressure and demand to our already over stretched mental health services.
“One way the Government could save money for our NHS and our councils would be to fund a retrospective audit for all mesh-injured women. “That would save the costs of treating and caring for them in the future.”