It is a great start, Health Sec­re­tary, but is not the end

Mesh cam­paign­ers wel­come Gov­ern­ment ban but say the fight goes on


The­women who first gave a voice to Scot­land’s mesh vic­tims yes­ter­day wel­comed a ban an­nounced by Holy­rood min­is­ters last week. But the two coura­geous cam­paign­ers said their fight to halt the use of all plas­tic sur­gi­cal mesh – which con­tin­ues to be used on both men and women – will con­tinue. Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man last week said NHS boards have been told to stop us­ing vagi­nal mesh in cases of pelvic or­gan pro­lapse and stress uri­nary in­con­ti­nence but other types of mesh pro­ce­dures will con­tinue. Elaine Holmes, who launched the Hear Our Voice cam­paign six years ago, said: “Although this is a phe­nom­e­nal vic­tory for pa­tient power, it’s sad it took so long for the Gov­ern­ment to lis­ten. “It con­cerns us mesh pro­ce­dures are still be­ing car­ried out, and we will con­tinue our cam­paign un­til mesh is no longer used.” She said the “en­demic re­luc­tance” by doc­tors to lis­ten to pa­tients had pro­longed the use of mesh and put more pa­tients at risk. Her cam­paign col­league Olive McIl­roy said: “We be­lieve we’re still only just see­ing the tip of the ice­berg, and fear many more vic­tims will be iden­ti­fied be­fore this scan­dal is over. “Amongst our num­bers are many suf­fer­ing ter­ri­ble in­juries from her­nia mesh, which is made of the same sub­stance as blad­der and pelvic or­gan mesh. “We must never for­get brave Michele Mc­Dougall whose dy­ing wish was to pre­vent oth­ers suf­fer­ing be­fore she passed away in May af­ter years of de­nial from sur­geons that her­nia mesh was to blame for her agony. “Mar­ion McMil­lan from Pais­ley is dy­ing from can­cer. She was sent to a psy­chi­a­trist be­cause doc­tors said her prob­lems were ‘all in her head’ in­stead of be­ing sent for the scan that could have saved her life. “Right now, many are fight­ing to get fund­ing to ac­cess spe­cial­ist sur­geons in Eng­land who are most ex­pe­ri­enced at re­mov­ing mesh. “We should have ac­cess to those ser­vices here. “But spe­cial­ists in Scot­land How we cov­ered the case refuse to use translabial ul­tra­sound scan­ners, the only method that can ac­cu­rately show where mesh is in­side the body.” Urog­y­nae­col­o­gist Wael Agur said: “It is es­sen­tial that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to mon­i­tor the use of th­ese de­vices as there are sur­geons who still be­lieve they are the best treat­ment for in­con­ti­nence and may try to cir­cum­vent the re­stric­tion pro­gramme that lim­its the use for th­ese de­vices. “As for the ab­dom­i­nal place­ment of mesh pro­ce­dures, there are les­sons yet to be learnt. “The risks associated with all th­ese pro­ce­dures are avoid­able and un­til such risks can be mit­i­gated, I be­lieve th­ese pro­ce­dures should ei­ther be in­cluded in the re­cent Gov­ern­ment ac­tion or at least un­dergo a sim­i­lar re­stric­tion pro­gram to the one pro­posed.” Labour’s Neil Find­lay de­scribes mesh as a “grotesque and deadly prod­uct”, and said last week’s de­ci­sion was “the Gov­ern­ment’s first pos­i­tive step for­ward in this dread­ful scan­dal”. He is “ap­palled” two of Scot­land’s big­gest health au­thor­i­ties NHS Glas­gow and NHS Loth­ian con­tin­ued to im­plant a fur­ther 750 women af­ter the 2014 sus­pen­sion. He said: “This pro­ce­dure was brought in as a way to save money, £200 per pa­tient. “No­body con­sid­ered the hu­man cost in dev­as­tated lives or the huge cost to the NHS treat­ing those women who have been in­jured.”

Jeane Free­man

Elaine, left, and Olive will keep fight­ing

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