Many women have been left in chronic pain by vaginal mesh implants that have gone wrong. There are around 13,000 women each year who receive permanent vaginal tape implants in England and around 1,500 vaginal mesh implants in England. A number of operations are often for women after pregnancy and tend to be presented as carrying little risk.
Performed under local anaesthetic, with variable patient information to warn of the potential complications, some women have not been fully informed of the potential consequences where operations go wrong. In some cases patients have suffered horrific pain, severe distress, and complications have significantly impacted their quality of life. These procedures are often very difficult to rectify and patient complications can be under reported due to the personal issues involved.
Working with my constituent Kath Sansom who has bravely highlighted the risks of mesh implants, I have met with Ministers and with Professor Willett in the House of Commons to highlight the concerns of patients with vaginal mesh implants. Health Minister George Freeman MP has today sent me a five page letter which I hope provides a useful update to patients and campaigners affected by these implants.
I am grateful to the Minister for such a detailed response. It shows that the Government has recognised the concerns of campaigners, in particular regarding the suitability of some patients for these implants, the need to improve surgical techniques, how patient information can be made clearer, and the importance of making sure patients are fully aware of the potential complications associated with mesh implants.
It remains the Department’s view that the benefits of mesh implants overall outweighs the risks, but it is clear that there is now a senior level focus on fully minimising these risks through improved surgical techniques and better data to patients. It is vital that patients are fully aware of the risks of mesh implants so they can make an informed decision.
I am meeting with Professor Keith Willett again at the House of Commons on Monday 11th January and will be joined at this meeting by Kath Sansom so we can discuss the action proposed by the Minister and the Mesh Working Group in more detail.
I am pleased to see that an Oversight Group consisting of selected members of the Working Group will remain to oversee that the recommended activities have been delivered, and as part of this I urge any patient who has been adversely affected by mesh implants to notify their doctor so we capture a more accurate picture of the number of patients impacted.
To read George Freeman MP’s letter, click here.