Vaginal mesh: Lawyers urge government to ‘apologise and act’

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Medical Negligence Lawyers have today backed calls for an apology from the NHS and HM Government for failing to act on the ‘emotional and physical pain’ experienced by thousands of women who received a pelvic mesh implant.

A synthetic netting which is used to treat conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, the method is strongly linked to serious and devastating complications including infections, damage to organs and chronic pain.

Now, a report issued following a two-year review into the use of the mesh implants describes how the concerns of patients had been dismissed as ‘women’s problems’, and that many had been forced to campaign for decades for their voices to be heard.

Geoff Simpson-Scott, Head of Clinical and Medical Negligence Claims at law firm Simpson Millar, who have represented dozens of women affected by the scandal, said action was needed to help ‘restore trust’ in the NHS.

The report, titled ‘First Do No Harm’ sets out a series of recommendations to help those who have been harmed by the treatment, and to prevent the future suffering of others, including the appointment of a Patient Safety Commissioner who will monitor trends and hold the system to account.

Led by Baroness Cumberledge, a review committee was tasked with travelling across the UK to hear the personal accounts of hundreds of patients and their families, including journalist and campaigner Kath Sansom who is behind the group Sling the Mesh.

In calling for an apology, Cumberledge said much of the suffering had been ‘entirely avoidable’.

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Medical Negligence Solicitor Geoff Simpson-Scott says it is now ‘imperative’ that the recommendations made by the investigative team are now implemented.

He said, “The report highlights some truly horrific failings in the care received by men and women, and it is, sadly, quite safe to assume that there are many more who have suffered emotionally and physically as a result of this issue than those who were directly interviewed.

“It is now absolutely imperative that those victims receive a full and frank apology, and that action is taken to implement the recommendations outlined by the committee including the appointment of a dedicated Patient Safety Commissioner who is tasked with identifying trends relating to a particular procedure or device.

“Only then will the thousands of people affected by this devastating scandal feel that what has happened to them has been taken seriously, and only then will future patients feel reassured that they are receiving the very best standard of care.

“Furthermore, we would welcome an extension of the limitation that is imposed on claims of this nature so that those who have suffered life-altering injuries can claim for compensation to replace lost wages and to fund further corrective treatment, as well as vital care and rehabilitation.”

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Baroness Cumberlege said that the healthcare system - including the NHS, private providers, the regulators and professional bodies, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and policymakers - was ‘disjointed, siloed, unresponsive and defensive’.

She went on to say that the system did not listen to the concerns of patients, and that it was ‘not good enough’ at spotting trends in practice and outcomes that ‘give rise to safety concerns’.

Speaking to press campaigner Kath Sansom also said that there were many more people who were likely to be affected by mesh complications, with an average of seven years before women raise concerns about the side affects of the product.

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