Health Secretary ‘convinced’ mesh ban was correct decision

A ban on mesh implants will not be lifted until there is a “high vigilance, restricted-use” protocol put in place, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has said.

Health boards in Scotland were ordered to immediately halt the use of vaginal mesh implants in September, with thousands of women having received the treatment.

Many women say they have suffered painful and debilitating health complications as a result of the procedure.

The use of mesh was suspended in all but “extraordinary circumstances” in Scotland in 2014.

The Scottish Government said a sub-group of medical directors and senior clinical managers will be asked to consider a range of measures to help improve care for women who have received a mesh implant.

Vaginal mesh implants
Vaginal mesh implants

Ms Freeman said: “Last September, I announced a complete halt to all transvaginal mesh procedures and that will only be lifted when I am satisfied that a high vigilance, restricted-use protocol has been fully implemented.

“I remain convinced that was the right decision but it is also important that we do everything possible for the women who have suffered injury as a result of complications from procedures already carried out.

“Following this week’s debate at the Scottish Parliament, I have listened carefully to the views of women who have been affected by complications.

“I had the opportunity to meet some of them in person after the debate and I found what they told me of their experience deeply moving.”

She added: “This sub-group will look at a range of options to see how the care and support for these women can be improved.

“In particular, and where reasonable, I want them to ensure that women have some choice regarding the place of treatment and the clinicians involved.

“Senior health board medical managers, academic and European advisers, and advocates for the affected women will all contribute to this work.

“The first meeting will be held as soon as is practicable and I will write to campaigners within a month to set out the probable timescales.”

Among the group’s considerations will be the sharing of experience and techniques from Europe and the US, and examining education and training requirements.

The Scottish Government said a meeting with a representative group of campaigners will be arranged to seek their views on service development.

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said he welcomed the announcement from the Health Secretary.

“This is a step forward for women in Scotland seeking full mesh removal and is a great result for campaigners – Elaine Holmes, Olive McIlroy and Marion Scott,” he said.

“This announcement opens the door to more clinical working with mesh experts in other parts of the world.

“This battle has been a protracted one but this does look like a victory.

“I now very much hope that the SNP Government will stick to their word and give mesh survivors these much-needed options.”