NHS facing £32m case over mesh implants
NHS Scotland is facing £32million worth of lawsuits after more than 400 damages claims were lodged from women who received pelvic mesh implants.
Lord Boyd of Duncansby said about 350 cases are currently in the Court of Session as he ruled that a further four more can be added to that number.
The judge added: ‘There is significant public interest in the outcome of these cases.
‘I am informed that the issues surrounding these cases have been raised in the petitions committee of the Scottish parliament.
‘There are numerous actions pending in other jurisdictions, including England and Wales and the United States. There is a considerable volume of material to consider and a multiplicity of legal issues.
‘I am told that resolution of some of the cases may require developwomen ment in areas of the law for which there is no authority.
‘While defences have not yet been lodged in these cases, one aspect of the defence on behalf of medical practitioners may be their reliance on the fact that the products were licensed for use in the UK.
‘That may in turn raise issues of public confidence in the licensing system itself.’
The judge had to consider four cases – three against local health boards and one against a private healthcare firm, with all four also against manufacturer Johnson & Johnson – which a sheriff considered should go to the Court of Session.
Sheriff Katherine Mackie at Edinburgh Sheriff Court had asked the senior court to allow actions brought by individuals, known as AB, AS, CK and SH, to be accepted by it.
The four actions followed the insertion of tape and mesh products into to treat prolapsed bladders and relieve incontinence, sometimes after childbirth, and the claims range from £50,000 to £80,000.
They allege a breach of duty under consumer protection legislation and maintain there was a breach of duty to give warnings over the use of pelvic mesh products.
The sheriff court has jurisdiction over claims not exceeding £100,000, but legislation allows for such cases to be remitted to the Court of Session because of importance or difficulty in exceptional cases.
Lord Boyd said: ‘There are presently around 350 cases in the Court of Session arising out of the use of pelvic mesh products. I was informed by counsel for the health boards that the NHS in Scotland has received intimation of 409 claims.’
The Lord President Lord Carloway has already issued a practice direction for such cases aimed at ensuring they are dealt with in an efficient and consistent way.
Lord Boyd said he was satisfied that the four cases brought against NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust, Greater Glasgow Health Board, BMI Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson, should be in the Court of Session
The judge added: ‘These four cases are clearly part of a much wider cohort of cases which have been raised in Scotland.’
NHS boards now have a revised leaflet, first published in June 2014, to provide women with better information about mesh implants so they can give fully informed consent before any procedure.
An independent review of the implants will publish its final report later this year, following publication of key evidence.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Scottish Government’s Expert Group is currently developing improvements in the governance around these procedures, as set out in the Independent Review’s Interim Report published last year, and welcomed by support groups affected by this issue.’
Claims range from £50,000 to £80,000