Whilst welcoming the announcement (21 February) from Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt of a review into failings in the regulation of vaginal mesh implants, Thompsons Solicitors says the scope of the enquiry may not be wide enough to deal with what they fear are systemic failings within the NHS and private healthcare that have left thousands of women in pain, distress and ill health.

The review, to be led by a Conservative peer, Baroness Julia Cumberlege, will look into whether enough was done by the NHS and regulators to protect those affected by mesh surgeries when safety concerns were raised.

Linda Millband is the national practice lead for medical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors and has been working with over 150 victims of vaginal and rectal mesh implants to secure damages for their injuries. She says: “A review is welcome but overdue. So many of those who received this treatment were pushed into surgery when other, safer, more conservative treatments were also available. It clearly wasn’t in many women’s interests and they wouldn’t have chosen the operation had the potential consequences been properly explained to them. Was mesh used so extensively to suit the surgeons or to speed people through the system? 

“What checks will be put in place to ensure that improperly tested products with well-known failure rates in other countries aren’t extensively used again as Mesh was? 

“The insertion of Mesh and its removal was mishandled across the UK.  It was miss sold to women as a quick fix but what knowledge did surgeons have of its potential complications?  Were surgeons when they failed to adequately warn and gain proper consent from women in full possession of the facts? Did the use of Mesh become so extensive and so pervasive that training was minimal?  

“If anything is truly to be learned the review needs to ensure that there are mechanisms in place that ensure lessons are being learned as the complaints come in and not when a problem has turned into a scandal.

“The voices of those that have been impacted must be taken seriously and Thompsons will continue to work with the ‘Sling the Mesh’ campaign, without whose effective campaigning the government may well have continued to avoid addressing this scandal head-on, to help make that happen.”

"The voices of those that have been impacted must be taken seriously and Thompsons will continue to work with the ‘Sling the Mesh’ campaign, without whose effective campaigning the government may well have continued to avoid addressing this scandal head-on, to help make that happen."

Linda Millband
National Practice Lead for Medical Negligence