Many women have been left in agonising pain after receiving surgery to treat prolapse or bladder problems. The surgery involves inserting a mesh sling which lifts the pelvis and connects into the tissue. Although the surgery has benefited the lives of many women enormously, others blame the mesh for crippling, chronic, pain.
The pain felt by these women – and indeed some men following prostrate operations – has had serious effects on other aspects of their lives. Some have been left unable to work, whilst others can no longer enjoy the simple pleasures of a walk on a warm summers evening or activities like horse riding and cycling. Moreover, due to the sensitive nature of these complications, there is a concern among many sufferers that there is often a failure to report post operation complications to GPs or Surgeons. This raises concerns that official statistics underestimate the true scale of the complications being experienced.
I became aware of this issue earlier this year when Kath Sansom, a constituent and reporter on my local paper the Cambs Times, bravely spoke up about the problem. Kath launched her Sling the Mesh campaign, as she herself was left in agony after her surgery went wrong.
Following the concerns raised by Kath, I met with Professor Keith Willet in the House of Commons. Professor Willet is the expert the government has appointed to conduct a review within the NHS in England into the safety of the mesh product and the surgical procedure involved.
A report conducted in Scotland has been published in the last couple of weeks, which has recognised a need for more, robust reporting of complications arising from the surgery. Furthermore, it makes clear that women should be better supported when they report persistent pain after receiving this surgery. The report also suggests that women should be given a quick option to have their mesh removed if they are still reporting persistent pelvic or groin pain up to 4-8 weeks post-surgery. The Scottish study also highlighted the need for more information, including the risks involved, to be given to patients during the decision making process.
I welcome these conclusions which add further weight to the concerns of constituents like Kath. I have now been in touch with NHS England to seek an update on when Professor Willet’s report will be published, which I hope will be very soon. Once the report has been made available, I will be seeking a further meeting with Professor Willet to examine how we ensure better information for patients regarding the risk of these products, more quickly address complications from surgery, and establish whether aspects of the surgical procedure that carry a higher risk of complications can be phased out.
You can download the Scottish Interim Report here
For further information on the Sling the Mesh campaign you can visit the campaign website