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Government conducts national audit to determine extent of problems caused by mesh

The Department of Health and Social Care has today announced it accepts the case made by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Surgical Mesh Implants and campaigners to conduct a retrospective audit into vaginal mesh surgery.

This comes after a series of meetings with the APPG and the Minister for Health, Lord O’Shaughnessy, and is one of four key demands made by the APPG.

The Department of Health and Social Care audit will help the NHS better understand complications related to surgery using mesh for incontinence and prolapse. The audit involves linking data on patients’ conditions and the type of surgery to subsequent hospital treatment and consultations in the NHS.  Once those data have been gathered and analysed, they will be published by the Department.  The work is expected to be completed by April.

The study will provide the most accurate data possible about how many women in England have had mesh implanted, and how many of them have experienced problems after surgery. NHS England estimates over 100,000 women have been operated on using mesh and that complications affect between 3-5% of cases. However some recent studies suggest serious complications occur for one in ten women. The APPG has been calling for this audit in order to better understand the scale of the risks involved for women.

The announcement comes ahead of the forthcoming APPG meeting this evening in Parliament, where MPs from all political parties will meet with clinicians to discuss mesh.

Commenting on the news, Vice Chair of the APPG on Surgical Mesh Implants, Emma Hardy MP said:

“In my first speech on Mesh in Westminster Hall in October, I urged Ministers to conduct an investigation to fully determine problems related to mesh surgery.

“I’m delighted that the government has listened to our concerns and has now agreed to undertake this audit to get a better understanding of complications related to mesh surgery. I hope the audit will provide crucial answers about the proportion of women adversely affected by mesh surgery.”

Kath Sansom, Founder of Sling the Mesh said:

“After two decades of mesh use with poor audit, the Government is finally hearing the voices of women whose lives have changed beyond repair.

“A survey of 570 women in Sling The Mesh shows a third have suffered mesh slice into their vagina or organs and eight out of ten have pain walking or sitting. Six out of ten have lost partners because of the strain while seven out of ten have lost sex lives. A third have had to give up work because of pain. Not surprisingly six out of ten suffer depression and anxiety.”

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