Thompsons Solicitors has responded to the government's announcement to the House of Commons over the use of surgical mesh.
The leading medical negligence law firm has expressed concern over discrepancies between the recommendations of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review and the Ministerial announcement to the House of Commons over the use of surgical mesh for treating stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Baroness Julia Cumberlege, noting the ‘seriousness and scale of the tragic stories’ they had heard said her and her team were ‘in no doubt’ that a ‘pause’ in the use of mesh to treat SUIs was ‘necessary’ until a set of conditions to mitigate the risks of injury are met.
However, despite saying they accepted the recommendations of the Review, the government statement to Parliament did not commit to the blanket and immediate ban called for but instead introduced the concept of a 'high vigilance programme of restricted practice'.
Tom Jones, Head of Policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The recommendation for a ban could not have been clearer and yet, whilst saying they accept it the government haven’t introduced a ban at all. The only thing they have introduced is ambiguity where there was none.
"For the Department for Health and Social Care to be backing out of promises made by experts they appointed to advise them is extremely worrying. Baroness Cumberlege wanted no one else to suffer but the government apparently don’t care. It’s worth recalling that Jackie Doyle Price said in answer to a Westminster Hall Debate in October 2017 that she believed mesh ‘is still the best product for treating stress incontinence’ and it appears that her mind is closed and she thinks she knows better than the experts."
The recommendation for a ban could not have been clearer and yet, whilst saying they accept it the government haven’t introduced a ban at all. The only thing they have introduced is ambiguity where there was none.
Tom Jones, Head of Policy at Thompsons Solicitors
According to the NHS, more than 127,000 women in the UK have had mesh and tape implants for side effects typically following childbirth.
Hundreds more, including men and children, have been offered mesh surgery as a treatment for rectal prolapses and abdominal hernias, neither of which have been included in the ban.
Many people who have had a mesh implant are now suffering from severe pain, life-long injuries and psychological trauma as a result of their operations.
Thompsons Solicitors is representing over 220 victims of mesh across the UK. The law firm’s Patients Before Profits campaign, as well as its work with campaign group ‘Sling the Mesh’ supported by Owen Smith MP, has been calling for an immediate suspension on all procedures involving mesh, until a full inquiry is completed.
Owen Smith, Labour MP for Pontypridd and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Surgical Mesh Implants, said: "I am concerned that a rearguard action fought by surgeons who have earned thousands putting mesh into women in private clinics has forced the government to row back somewhat from the clear suspension envisaged by the Independent Review.
"I have submitted questions to Health Ministers to clarify the current position. Crucially, we need to know how many women does the government imagine will still be treated with Mesh under the exceptional cases process and how will those women be selected?".
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