Surgical Mesh Implants — [Albert Owen in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 18th October 2017.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 9:30 am, 18th October 2017

I absolutely agree with that. That hospital would neither confirm nor deny that those young girls had been operated on. For background information, all the colorectal surgeons who the programme spoke to said that the young women should have been offered other avenues before surgery. The programme also highlighted the extremely concerning practice of one surgeon attaching part of the rectal mesh to the soft tissue on the wall of the vagina. The shocking reason for subjecting women to this was explained by one consultant, who stated that if the rectopexy mesh is fitted in that way, the surgeon can charge for vaginal repairs as well as for fitting the mesh. Some of the patients being operated on were not aware of where the mesh was being attached, which raises serious questions about the warnings patients are given.

We must remember that it is not only women affected by this issue; men and women are suffering from chronic pain after having mesh surgery for hernias, using the same material—usually polypropylene plastic—used in vaginal mesh surgery. Research shows that between 10% and 15% of people who have had hernia mesh surgery suffer from chronic pain and complications after surgery. However, as with vaginal mesh surgery, not enough information is available to understand the extent of the risks of surgery.

Thankfully, there are organisations that help those affected to tell their stories. The Sling the Mesh campaign has done an incredible job in highlighting the problems, but there must be a wider effort from the Government to inform members of the public that this is an issue and to encourage them to speak out if they experience problems. Thousands of people have had the procedure over the past two decades without knowing what would happen if their body rejected the plastic mesh or if the mesh harmed their internal organs, leading to many people wanting the mesh removed. However, mesh removal is not a simple solution.