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Mesh Surgery Failure is costing the NHS Millions of pounds

Parliament today debated the scandal of surgical mesh for the first time as new government data shows the true scale of failure in mesh operations and new analysis for the APPG on Surgical Mesh reveals the costs of such failures to the NHS.

The controversy surrounding the use of surgical mesh to treat urinary incontinence and prolapse in women will be debated on the floor of the House of Commons for the first time tomorrow, after Emma Hardy MP, Vice Chair of the All Party Group on Surgical Mesh, secured a Backbench Business Debate.

The debate will take place just two days after the Government produced a new statistics which shows that approximately 500 out of every 13,000 women implanted with mesh are re-operated on within a decade to have the mesh removed.

Analysis conducted by Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence Based Medine at the University of Oxford and Clinical Advisor to the APPG on Surgical Mesh reveals that the 100, 516 women who have undergone mesh surgery in England since 2008/9 have required follow up in a total of 993,035 outpatient appointments, at a total cost to the NHS of £119,164,200.

Professor Heneghan’s analysis of the trend in outpatient appointments also shows that more are required by women as each year passes post-surgery – the reverse of that which would be normally be seen after successful surgery.

Commenting, Emma Hardy MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on Surgical Mesh. who will opened the debate, said:

“Despite some recent successes in the mesh campaign, there is still more work to be done both to help the victims of the current scandal and to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. I believe the Government now needs to fully suspend mesh operations and to bring forward the NICE guidance which is still not expected until 2019! I also believe the Government should urgently review the financial consequences of dealing with failed mesh procedures and should consider introducing post-natal pelvic floor physiotherapy for all new mothers on the NHS. That is standard in France, and in light of the shocking new analysis which reveals the cost of botched mesh ops, our Government should bring forward a similar programme to both support the health and wellbeing of new mothers and to save NHS money in the longer term.”

Commenting, Professor Heneghan said:

‘These are the sorts of outpatient treatment numbers one would expect to see among a cohort of patients with multiple co-morbidities, not that you’d see among the relatively young and relatively cohort of women who have usually been operated on with surgical mesh for urinary incontinence.’

Government agencies and Ministers have in the past claimed that the normal rate of serious complications, such as significant and long-running pain, sexual dysfunction or erosion and extrusion of mesh, only occurs in 1-3% of patients. However, these new statistics show that over the nine year period following surgery 4% of patients are at some point re-operated on to have their mesh removed fully or partially, while many thousands of other women are clearly suffering serious and ongoing side-effects, as evidenced by the significant and rising numbers of outpatient appointments.

Commenting, Owen Smith MP, Chair of the APPG on Surgical Mesh said:

‘These statistics show that the scale and complexity of the problems associated with mesh is far greater than has previously been accepted. It cannot be right that so many women are having to return repeatedly to hospital to deal with the side-effects caused by mesh, and it cannot be cost-effective for the NHS either. In light of these statistics, the Government has now called in Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, to investigate, in addition to the appointment of Baroness Julia Cumberledge just weeks ago to look at how the scandal has been handled. They now need to suspend the use of mesh until the results of these twin investigations are known.”

The APPG on Surgical Mesh is calling on the Government to: will this week call on the government to do more to support women injured by surgical mesh.

  1. Suspend mesh implant operations until NICE brings forward new guidance on the safety and efficacy of Mesh for Stress Urinary Incontinence (currently scheduled for March 2019).
  2. Offer Pelvic floor physiotherapy as standard on the NHS to new mums to help restore the core after birth and prevent these problems before they even start.

Some estimates predict that between 10 and 20 per cent of people are injured by the procedure. Here are some other shocking statistics about the operation:

  • 4 in 5 women injured by surgical mesh suffer life changing pain.
  • 1 in 3 women injured by surgical mesh have had to give up work.
  • Only 3 in 20 women who received treatment with surgical mesh were warned of the risks.

Mesh surgery is a medical procedure used to treat incontinence and prolapse in women, many of whom are new mothers. The surgery, which usually takes less than half an hour, involves inserting a plastic mesh into the vagina to support the bladder, womb or bowel. It was sold to many women as a quick and easy fix to their problems. In some cases, the surgery has proved life changing. Many women have been to see their doctors but feel that they have not been listened to.

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