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Surgical Mesh Implants — [Albert Owen in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:24 am on 18th October 2017.

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Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower 10:24 am, 18th October 2017

Thank you, Mr Owen, for chairing this debate. I congratulate my hon. Friend Emma Hardy on securing this important Westminster Hall debate on international menopause day.

Women are always reluctant to speak out about the personal and intimate medical issues that they experience. Sadly, they are highlighted only when things go wrong. Two women in my constituency have spoken out about their experiences, but I urge all women who have suffered as a result of a mesh implant to get in touch with their MP, because we know there are many other cases. As we have heard, there are women suffering whom we do not know about.

Recently I met a constituent of about my age whose life has been devastated. She had a mesh fitted in December 2011 and knew immediately that something was wrong. She could hardly move her right leg. She had pain all across her lower abdomen and back and in the right side of her groin. She had infections in the operation sites and was given three lots of antibiotics. Three weeks later the consultant said that she had mesh exposure. She was admitted on 3 February for what she thought was a removal, but it turned out to be for steroid injections, which did not alleviate the pain.

She was then sent for internal physiotherapy. I imagine that was very painful. She has also received physio on her back because of back pain. She saw numerous consultants and had many scans. Eventually, after bursting into tears during a physio session because of the pain she was in, she ended up seeing another consultant, who decided she should be admitted to remove the mesh. The operation was in August 2012 and she was pain-free for about a year after, but then it started again. She had constant pain in the groin, back, and across the lower abdomen, and she went back and forth to the doctor in the familiar scenario that we are hearing about today. It was even thought she might have bladder cancer, but all the scans were clear and still she was in constant pain.

My constituent was under the impression that the mesh had been removed, so when they were all scratching their heads and saying they did not understand why she was in pain, she was told she should try and manage it better. Understandably, she did not know where to turn. Eventually she saw a different consultant who asked her what she could feel inside, and she said it was the mesh. It turned out they had only cut the mesh in half. It was still there—no wonder she was in so much pain. Again, she went in for removal in August 2015. Unable to pass urine for three weeks, she had to self-catheterise at home.

About nine weeks later she started to feel as though she was getting on her feet again and was relatively pain-free for about a year, but it flared up again. She had another round of video urodynamics done, which was not pleasant. She was told that the corner pieces of the mesh were still there and it was too risky to remove them. After a recent flare-up with severe inflammation, she was sent for an urgent scan. Having spent the past six years in constant pain and discomfort, she does not have a partner because so much time is taken up looking after herself and her son and working.

During a visit to the consultant this year he asked what she wanted him to do. She said, “I came to be under your care because I was incontinent. I am still under your care six years later, still incontinent, and in pain as well now, so you tell me what you are going to do.” We must realise these women need help. As the MP for Gower, I have talked about my constituent and the plight of mesh-injured women. Many women do not like to discuss this topic and they do not want to complain. We cannot wait until 2019 for NICE to bring out guidance. I echo the words of the shadow Minister for Public Health, my hon. Friend Mrs Hodgson, by asking the Government to hold a public inquiry into the numbers of women adversely affected.