Scotland politics

Shona Robison calls for mesh implants suspension

Woman in pain Image copyright Thinkstock

Health Secretary Shona Robison is urging health boards to suspend mesh implant operations until an independent review into their use is published.

It has emerged that some boards are continuing to perform the procedure.

This is despite a call for a moratorium by former health secretary Alex Neil in June last year.

Ms Robison also confirmed that women who have had complications as a result of mesh implants would be able to access specialist support.

Mesh implants are aimed at treating prolapse and bladder problems, but some women have experienced painful complications.

Ms Robison met members of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign group earlier this week.

She said the Scottish government would work with patient groups and NHS inform to develop the practical support service for women experiencing complications or who have concerns regarding their condition.

EXPLAINER - Mesh implants

Image copyright Eyewire
  • The Scottish Parliament's petitions committee recently heard evidence on a petition calling for the suspension of the use of medical mesh devices. Find out how the procedure has blighted the lives of some women.

She said: "I had a very constructive meeting with members of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign group.

"I recognise the impact the procedure has had on these women and was keen to discuss with them ways in which the Scottish government can offer support.

"As part of our discussions I was pleased to confirm that the Scottish government will be able to arrange additional support for those affected by the procedure through the NHS inform hotline.

"We will be working closely with patient groups and NHS inform to develop this role."

'Extremely concerned'

She added: "I am extremely concerned that women have suffered complications following their surgery. This is why we have set up an independent review, which is currently considering these issues and will make recommendations in the spring.

"Until then we have requested that all health boards continue to suspend the use of mesh implants, except where clinically advisable and provided the woman, aware of the risks, has fully consented.

"I will be writing again to all medical directors asking them to consider suspension while the independent review is carried out. This is the right thing to do and will allow a thorough assessment of the evidence before next steps are agreed."

The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates mesh products, published a report in October stating that "whilst some women have experienced distressing and severe effects, the current evidence shows that when these products are used correctly they can help alleviate the very distressing symptoms of SUI (stress urinary incontinence) and POP (pelvic organ prolapse), and as such the benefits still outweigh the risks".

It added: "In line with other medical device regulators worldwide we are not aware of a robust body of evidence to suggest that these devices are unsafe if used properly as intended and therefore should be removed from the market."

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