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 and thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that.

Currently in the UK, there are about 100 types of vaginal mesh implants. Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, has raised concerns about the evidence that mesh manufacturers need to provide before their products are approved and made available on the NHS. It is extremely worrying that the Pelvic Floor Society, which is associated with the surgeon Mr Dixon and was set up as a world expert group, is partly sponsored by mesh manufacturers. The BBC spoke to the Pelvic Floor Society on camera during the “Inside Out West” documentary and was told that it had discovered complications only in 2014. However, minutes of a joint meeting of the southern, midland and northern groups of the Pelvic Floor Society in October 2012 say:

“We need to ensure that all individuals are appropriately consented for the risks of mesh placement;
Long term Shrinkage, Mesh erosion, Mesh failure. We need to have a prospective registry for” laparoscopic ventral mesh. Why, if the industry knew about these problems in 2012, are they only coming to light now? That is further proof that the Government must do something about this.

One thing that could be done is to follow the recommendations of the all-party parliamentary group and bring forward publication of the NICE guidelines on mesh for stress-related urinary incontinence. Currently, NICE says that it plans to publish revised guidelines in 2019, but we think that is too long to wait. We want NICE to urgently prioritise them. Mesh as a first-line treatment for incontinence and prolapse should be suspended until the NICE guidelines are revisited.

In May this year, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, confirmed that the Scottish Government had suspended the treatment for people with pelvic organ prolapse. Until we have a proper understanding of just how many women are suffering from mesh injury, we think the surgery should be suspended, but in all cases, not just for pelvic organ prolapse.

Professor Carl Heneghan says that some of the devices used in mesh treatment have not been clinically tested or trialled and that the number of people affected by mesh injury means that this could be one of the biggest medical scandals of our time. Suzy Elneil, consultant urologist at University College London, has also warned about the number of women affected by mesh injury. She is one of the few qualified surgeons in the UK who can remove mesh once it has been fitted and she tells me that she sees about 15 women a week who are suffering following mesh surgery. Consultant gynaecologist Dr Wael Agur from the University of Glasgow was once an advocate of mesh surgery, but has changed his mind since seeing at first hand the evidence of mesh risks. He agrees that there is significant under-reporting of mesh complications and says that, as a result, the MHRA has only a fraction of the knowledge of adverse events associated with mesh.