NHS fac­ing £32m case over mesh im­plants

Scottish Daily Mail - - Shakespeare - By Dave Fin­lay

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

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