Scottish Government signs contract for 'free of charge' mesh removal surgery in America

A contract enabling NHS patients to visit the United States to receive transvaginal mesh removal surgery has now been signed.

The surgery for the mesh removal, and associated costs such as travel and accommodation will be paid for by the NHS, the Scottish Government has announced.

Arrangements have been agreed with Gynaecologic and Reconstructive Surgery of Missouri where Dr Veronikis – an expert in mesh removal – operates.

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It comes after hundreds of women were left with painful, life-changing side effects when they received the implant surgery.

The Scottish Government has announced that NHS Scotland has now signed a contract with a specialist clinic in America which will allow Scottish patients to travel there for mesh removal surgery free of charge.

A contract with Spire Healthcare, a private hospital in Bristol where Professor Hashim Hashim operates, was agreed earlier this year.

NHS National Services Scotland will now work closely with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and local health boards to take forward arrangements for those who wish to travel to the USA for mesh removal surgery. Arrangements are also underway for the first patients to travel to Bristol.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I fully understand that women want mesh removal surgery undertaken by surgeons who enjoy their full confidence and a range of measures are now in place to ensure this happens. I am determined to ensure that those with mesh complications get the treatment they want and need.

“Treatment and travel will be free of charge and I encourage anyone who wishes referral to one of these services to speak to their GP in the first instance and make their wishes known.”

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Many were led to believe that the surgery would improve their health after facing issues such as incontinence and prolapse following childbirth.

The use of the implants was stopped in Scotland in 2018.

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Last year, the Scottish Government confirmed it would reimburse the cost of private surgery for women who have already had mesh implants removed.

Such surgeries typically cost between £16,000 and £23,000.

Mary Morgan, Chief Executive of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), said: “This is a positive step in improving the range of patient pathways available to women injured by mesh.

“This new approach supports our commitment to patient-centred care. The options now available mean that mesh-injured women benefit from a service that has been designed to address their concerns and improve their experience.

“We will continue to work closely with our partnesrs at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Scottish Government to ensure the success of the Scottish National Mesh Service.”

Anyone seeking mesh removal carried out should first discuss this with their own clinician.

If considered appropriate at that stage, and in line with a process agreed with the independent providers, they would then be referred to the Complex Pelvic Mesh Removal Service in NHS GGC for consideration.

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If surgery is appropriate, the patient can choose to be treated by the service already available in NHS Scotland or to be referred to a specialist NHS centre in England or to one of the independent providers.

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