NHS Scotland announces immediate ban on use of controversial vaginal mesh implants

Scotland follows England in putting a halt on surgery using

The NHS in Scotland has this week announced an immediate ban on the use of controversial vaginal mesh implants in surgery.

Following a similar decision by NHS England earlier this year, health boards north of the border have been ordered to stop using mesh in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

The move comes after the implants were listed as an underlying cause of the death of a woman in August.

And it follows the publication of a review into the use of the implants following serious safety concerns.

The review found no evidence on the benefits for treating urinary incontinence that would outweigh ‘the severity of human suffering caused by mesh complications’.

The document led to the announcement of a ‘pause’ in the treatment across England, but this stopped short of a total ban.

Scottish Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said the ban will continue until a new ‘restricted use protocol’ is drawn up.

Mesh implants are used by surgeons to treat conditions which some women suffer after childbirth, with the synthetic substance used to repair damaged or weakened tissue.

This halt will help to safeguard patients against undergoing potentially life-threatening procedures where they cannot make fully-informed decisions on whether they are taking an acceptable risk

More than 100,000 women across the UK have been given them over the past 20 years.

But, in the past few years, it emerged that some women had suffered painful side effects, including the implants cutting into tissue, with some women suffering life-changing injuries.

The number adversely affected is unknown, but the Government is carrying out an audit to try to find out.

Commenting on the announcement of the ban in Scotland, Christian Beadell, a senior solicitor at medical negligence legal specialist, Fletchers Solicitors, told BBH: “The decision by NHS Scotland to pause the use of mesh implants comes as no surprise, following the similar pause by NHS England earlier in the year.

“The announcement comes only a few weeks after the tragic case of 75-year-old Eileen Baxter, whose death in August was linked to a mesh implant.

“While NICE and the MHRA continue to investigate the merits of vaginal mesh, it remains the case that there is uncertainty over the true risks and benefits for both pelvic organ prolapse and stress incontinence repair.

“This halt will, therefore, help to safeguard patients against undergoing potentially life-threatening procedures where they cannot make fully-informed decisions on whether they are taking an acceptable risk.

“The spotlight will also be turned to the use of mesh in other contexts such as hernia repair.”

He added: “I would hope the announcement will encourage a greater public understanding of the implications associated with mesh implants so that a considered decision can be made on a case-by-case basis.

“There are alternatives to the use of mesh and patients need to be given all the information.”

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