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New NICE guidelines fail to address serious risks of mesh

Commenting on the publication of the updated NICE guidelines on urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Surgical Mesh Implants, Owen Smith MP said:

“The APPG has for years called on NICE to update its guidelines on stress urinary incontinence and while I am pleased it has finally listened, the new guidelines do not go far enough in acknowledging the terrible problems many women have faced following mesh surgery.

“I am deeply disappointed that the updated guidelines appear to disregard mesh-injured women’s experiences by stating that there is no long-term evidence of adverse effects. Thousands of women have faced life-changing injuries following mesh surgery and they must not be ignored.

“It is worrying that the new guidelines disagree with NICE guidance of December 2017 on pelvic organ prolapse, which stated mesh should only be used for research purposes. I cannot understand why NICE appears to have effectively lifted its ban on mesh for prolapse, and I have serious concerns that as a result, women undergoing mesh surgery for prolapse may not be aware of the potential risks.

“While I am pleased that NICE is now advising against mesh as a first-line treatment for incontinence, the new guidelines fail to clearly outline that mesh should only be used once conservative methods have failed and when non-mesh surgery has failed. It is vital that a proper continence care pathway is established, with surgery as a last resort.

“It is imperative that the new guidelines do not undermine the important work currently being undertaken by Baroness Cumberlege’s Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, which is due to report later this year. While this is ongoing and until the safety of mesh can be proven, it must remain suspended.”

Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle and Vice Chair of the Surgical Mesh APPG said:

“One of the biggest issues with this Mesh scandal was that mesh injured women felt they were not being listened to about their own bodies. Following the work done by the APPG and Sling The Mesh, it appeared as if we were moving in a positive direction but this announcement that the NICE guidelines are to be changed marks a definite backwards step.

“To arbitrarily change the guidelines without waiting for the results of the Baroness Cumberlege review by the government is not just a betrayal of the mesh injured women, it is incomprehensible.

“Surely it would make more sense to maintain the status quo until results of that review were published and make decisions from there? I will be working closely with the other members of the APPG to hold NICE to account for this and make sure the voices of these Mesh Injured women continue to be heard”

Kath Sansom of Sling The Mesh said:

“We are appalled that despite political campaigns and the obvious suffering of many women, these guidelines are no different from what was published in 2003.

“They are so weak, they clear the way for the next generation of women to be harmed.

“We told our stories and NICE ignored us. NICE also ignored important scientific evidence showing mesh risk is at least 1 in 10 suffering, by deliberately omitting a key study of NHS figures.

“Our Sling The Mesh survey shows 1 in 20 women have attempted suicide and more than half have regular suicidal thoughts because of chronic pain, loss of sex life, constant infections and auto immune disease.

“These are unacceptable risks from what is sold to women as a simple fix. If a men’s operation was creating this level of harm it would have been stopped a long time ago.”

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