“Major breakthrough” hailed as plans to reimburse mesh-injured women for surgery revealed

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed today that the Scottish Government will take further steps to reimburse women affected by transvaginal mesh implants for the costs of past surgery.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that plans for new legislation to empower Ministers to reimburse women for the costs of surgery are in recognition of the "serious distress" caused by the controversial transvaginal mesh implants.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that plans for new legislation to empower Ministers to reimburse women for the costs of surgery are in recognition of the "serious distress" caused by the controversial transvaginal mesh implants.

The Minister confirmed that if re-elected in May, the SNP will introduce new legislation to the Scottish Parliament to grant Ministers specific powers to reimburse women affected by the harmful transvaginal mesh implants which caused a range of devastating health issues and complications for a number of women in Scotland.

The new bill proposed would see the Scottish Government reimburse those affected for the travel, medical and other appropriate expenses of mesh implant surgery NHS Scotland.

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Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The Scottish Government halted the implantation of transvaginal mesh in 2018, and is committed to keeping this halt in place.

“We absolutely recognise the serious distress which may have led to women using their own funds to pay for private surgery. As the Scottish Government does not currently have the legal power to refund these past costs we propose introducing legislation in the next parliament, subject to the outcome of the election.

“NHS Scotland is also inviting tenders to provide mesh removal surgery outside the NHS in the future for women who would prefer that option. We have decided to make these exceptional arrangements for surgery because of the trauma women have suffered as a result of mesh complications.

“Surgery carried out through this process either in the UK or overseas will of course be free of charge to patients with necessary travel costs paid for.

“Women who have suffered painful side effects from vaginal mesh implants must get the best possible care and we are also funding a new NHS Scotland national specialist centre where surgeons are operating now to remove mesh where this is appropriate. The development of the centre, and the way it operates, continues to be the subject of detailed consultation with affected women."

This comes after the Scottish Government announced last May that mesh victims dealing with medical complications from transvaginal mesh implantation would receive a £1,000 payment as compensation, helping them to access any further support required.

Initially implanted to help women to dealing with medical issues after childbirth and weakened or damaged tissue, the mesh devices were suspended for all but exceptional surgeries in 2014 – but continued to be used in some circumstances until 2018, when mesh surgery was found to be an underlying cause of death for 75-year-old Eileen Baxter and a parliamentary report called for an end to transvaginal mesh implantations over medical complications.

Since then, a number of MSPs have been campaigning for compensation for women affected by the mesh implants alongside the Scottish Mesh Survivor’s Group – with Neil Findlay MSP and Jackson Carlaw MSP heralding today’s news as a triumph for survivors on social media.

Neil Findlay MSP said in a tweet that the news was a “major breakthrough” and a “real victory for the campaign”.

“This is excellent news and comes after years of campaigning for improved treatment for mesh-injured women,” said Mr Findlay in a further comment on the news.

"We have to ensure that all women injured by mesh have the opportunity to receive the best healthcare treatment no matter where in the world they have to find it.”

He added: "Full, safe mesh removal is not available in Scotland and women must be able to choose treatment from a surgeon of their choice and someone they have complete confidence in.”

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