Jeane Freeman announces ‘immediate’ Scotland mesh implant ban

Eileen Baxter with her husband Charles. The 75-year-old from Loanhead passed away on 27 August after being admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) the previous week with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea linked to a mesh implant
Eileen Baxter with her husband Charles. The 75-year-old from Loanhead passed away on 27 August after being admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) the previous week with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea linked to a mesh implant
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The use of transvaginal mesh implants has been immediately halted in NHS Scotland, the health secretary has announced.

READ MORE: Grieving son says use of mesh implants is a ‘form of murder’
This does not include other procedures such as transabdominal mesh which 75-year-old Mrs Baxter underwent for a pelvic organ prolapse but these will be subject to “high vigilance” procedures. There was mixed reaction to the news, with campaigners urging the health secretary to implement a total ban on the use of mesh products.

Mark Baxter, Mrs Baxter’s son, expressed concern at the decision, while opposition politicians welcomed the move.

Mr Baxter said: “The underlying cause of my mum’s death was the mesh, that’s what cut through her bowel, that’s what caused the damage – this announcement dosen’t address that. My understanding is it’s the product that causes the damage, and it’s barbaric they’re using this material in the first place.”

Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy on behalf of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign said they were disappointed for the Baxter family and their hearts went out to them.

They said: “As a result of The Scotsman breaking the story of Eileen’s death and mesh being an underlying cause, we believe that this has prompted the announcement. The fact is that abdominal mesh is not going to be included in this halt. When we took our petition to the parliament in 2014 there was only a small number of us and we all had transvaginal mesh, that is what our petition is about. Since then we now have many people in our group who have similar mesh to Eileen, we also have men and women with hernia mesh. If we were doing our petition again we would widen it and we would include all mesh.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay welcomed the decision but criticised the SNP for taking too long to stop the use of the product.

He added: “This is a welcome move that represents a victory for campaigners and the many victims of one of the greatest corporate scandals of recent times. Hundreds of women have had their lives ruined by mesh implants and it is right that the government has finally acted. The procedures that have now been halted are not the type that contributed to Eileen Baxter’s death. Mesh’s horrific consequences have been known for years – and many women may now be suffering as a result of this delay.”

Ms Freeman said: “I have asked the chief medical officer to instruct health boards to immediately halt the use of transvaginal mesh altogether in cases of both pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence pending the implementation of a new restricted use protocol that will ensure procedures are carried out only in the most exceptional circumstances.”