I sincerely congratulate Emma Hardy on securing this debate, and it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen.
I, too, have applied for debates on this subject in the House, so this debate is welcomed by all parties. Like other colleagues, I am pleased that this issue is being discussed so openly, and it is absolutely vital that Ministers listen to the UK-wide concerns that are being raised. I have heard from Eastleigh constituents who have shared simply horrific accounts of the long-term difficulties that they have experienced as a result of having had a mesh implant, so I am very pleased to contribute to this debate.
I was also contacted via Facebook by a long-term friend who wanted to tell me her story after having her third child, and to link me into the Sling the Mesh group, which, as we know, is an ever-growing group, with more than 3,500 women involved with it. After an operation three weeks earlier, my friend had to self-catheterise. It was simply hideous. She said:
“It would seem that health professionals do not want to quite hear the truth or tell the truth about the complications of mesh or the TVTO surgery”,
which she had had. She felt that because the condition was so embarrassing, it was just being under-reported.
After a woman has had a baby, especially her first, she always listens to the professionals. Pain and suffering after a birth are not unusual, but two or three years after giving birth many women are in pain, with incontinence, with an impact on family life, with no sex life, and with no opportunity to play sport or to enjoy time with their children down at the park, or to enjoy time as a family and have time with their partner. Too many women are simply being ignored, post-pregnancy and through the long-term impact, as we have heard. GPs seemingly do not have a full understanding of this matter.
Let us be in no doubt: in some cases, but not the majority, this option is perhaps appropriate for women, but it must be carried out by trained surgeons. However, one more woman suffering in the way that many of our constituents have suffered is one woman too many. We have heard such stories today. So today I urge us to look at all those women who have been so dramatically affected by the long-term impact of trusting the advice of their surgeon. We must make sure that if anyone has a mesh implant put in, they really understand the impact.
I will give one further example that I have been informed about, which is the case of a lady in my local area who had surgical mesh implanted five years ago. Further treatment is ongoing; she has had multiple complications and operations. Her case has also been raised with me by her father, who has spelled out the heartbreak of seeing his daughter in so much pain.
I call on the Minister to ask the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to work further with the mesh working group to ensure that all those who use mesh know that it is the right treatment for them and fully understand all the issues and concerns that exist about mesh. Nobody should come away from this debate unaware of the warnings and complications. There is no doubt that if someone is suffering, mesh could be a good option for them. However, professionals should ensure that it is the right course for them.
I finish by strongly urging the Minister to act on this worrying, UK-wide concern. Let us not be afraid to end the suffering and let us be prepared to make sure that no further harm is caused by this issue. We should also be bold, because women’s health matters and family lives are simply being blighted.