‘400 mesh implants carried out’ despite suspension call

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison
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Around 400 mesh implant operations have been carried out since ministers called for them to be suspended, MSPs have heard.

The figure was quoted by Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who told the Scottish Parliament of the “devastating life-changing consequences” experienced by some women who have had the procedures.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the Scottish Government had no authority to withdraw the products as she confirmed a review on the issue would be published early next year.

Transvaginal tapes and meshes are used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

In June 2014, then health secretary Alex Neil asked health boards to suspend the use of the implants after a campaign by women who have suffered serious side effects.

Mr Findlay told Ms Robison on Tuesday: “Organ damage, loss of kidney, bladder removal, excruciating constant chronic pain, pelvic inflammation, pierced vaginal wall, nerve damage, mental breakdown, a reliance on wheelchairs and walking aids, husbands and partners injured during intercourse and family and marital breakdown - just some of the devastating life-changing consequences experienced by women who have been implanted with transvaginal mesh.

“Now we find, according to the media, another 400 Scottish women have been implanted since the so-called Scottish suspension in 2014. What message does the cabinet secretary have for these women?”

Ms Robison said: “The Scottish Government has no authority to withdraw these products. That is the role of the MHRA and they have not done so.”

She said that if women wanted to go ahead with the procedures, they could make an informed decision to do so in consultation with their clinician “with absolute clarity and information about the risks”.

She did not confirm the 400 figure, saying instead the information would be in the forthcoming review report.

Ms Robison said: “The request to suspend procedures will remain until the independent review’s recommendations have been put in place.

“In light of the Scottish Government’s request, the number of women receiving mesh implants has fallen.

“However, if women are experiencing very distressing symptoms and still want to proceed then I would want to give my reassurance that prior to a decision to have the mesh implant, all clinicians are expected to have a detailed discussion with their patients with the risks explored and explained so that a shared decision can be made and fully informed consent taken.”