Westminster think tank says mesh is a growing global scandal and women are still not being taken seriously
- Credit: Archant
Mesh is a growing global problem yet women are struggling to get the care they need if they suffer, a Parliamentary think tank heard this week.
MP Owen Smith, said of the controversial women’s pelvic mesh devices: “There’s a growing realisation across the world that mesh is a bigger problem than everybody thought.
“Data is really, really poor. Young active women, who had problems of incontinence or prolapse are being cut down with new problems that make their old health issue pale in comparison.
“The risks of mesh are far greater than was originally thought.”
MP Emma Hardy who led a debate in Westminster in October, said: “Women are made to feel humiliated still and are being told the problem is not the mesh. This has to stop.”
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The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) mesh meeting in Parliament was joined by Kath Sansom as group advisor, who spoke of the huge cost of mesh injured women to the NHS in medication, GP appointments, scans, blood tests, A&E appointments and costly removal operations.
In an emotional speech she told how some women’s pain medication cost the NHS as much as £180 a month and of one woman who cuts her arms in a bid to take her mind from the burning, cutting and slicing pain in her private parts.
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Chairing the meeting, Owen said: “We need a retrospective audit to see how many women have had mesh and then suffer adverse events.
“We need to bring together Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland under one system so we can work out the number suffering across the UK.”
And he levelled criticism at the MHRA who, despite being handed evidence to show mesh risk is as high as 10 per cent they still refuse to see it is a problem.
Vladimir Iakovlev, who travelled from Canada to address the mesh think tank, said: “Nerves can grow into the mesh, the mesh can erode internally.
“Most studies are low quality and not designed to detect complications. The studies under estimate numbers suffering.
“Implants are permanent so it is a permanent risk.”
The average time for mesh complications to cut in is four years, he added. But even a study up to four years would only capture half of those suffering problems.
Studies must run for 10 years to capture the true scale of suffering, he said. Or they must run for four years and then double the risk quoted, to get the real number of patients affected long term.
Professor Iakovlev told of a woman who had her pelvic mesh extracted after 18 years and of a hernia patient who had their plastic mesh implant removed 24 years later.
Surgeon John Osborne said too much mesh had been used, encouraged by heavy marketing by manufacturers.
He added researchers were currently working on a “new mesh” but unless there were proper controls in place, the same thing would happen again, of being rushed to market with out long term trials.
During the meeting members heard that many GPs and A&E departments have never heard of mesh complications.
Many doctors refuse to send women to mesh removal experts, instead sending women to seek a fix from the same surgeon who inserted the mesh in the first place then denied it was a problem.
The APPG agreed to look into finding a way to send mesh fact sheets to GP surgeries.