More than four hundred women and men, left permanently injured by mesh implant surgery, are taking legal action against surgeons, private hospitals, NHS trusts and a group of pharmaceutical giants, with support from Thompsons Solicitors.
Ahead of the publication on 8 July of a major review by Baroness Cumberlege, which is looking into concerns around medical interventions, including surgical mesh, the social justice law firm has confirmed it is pursuing more than 250 vaginal mesh and almost 150 rectal mesh claims.
All of the rectal mesh claims, and the majority of the vaginal mesh claims, are against either surgeons, private hospitals and NHS trusts for failing to identify and communicate the risks mesh posed to patients, or informing them that mesh was going to be used at all, before they consented to surgery. Just over 40 vaginal mesh cases are product liability claims against pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Ethicon, which is part of the Johnson & Johnson group, for defective mesh products.
All of those involved are suffering lifelong injuries and psychological trauma as a result of complications from the surgery, which was often given as a ‘quick fix’ to treat incontinence and prolapse. Common symptoms suffered include severe and persistent pain in the abdominal and pelvic areas, as well as bowel and nerve trauma, sexual dysfunction, bleeding, incontinence and a difficulty or inability to walk.
Many of Thompsons’ clients were not adequately informed of the risks of the surgery, and many were never told of other far less invasive options available, such as physiotherapy or bulking injections. Some were even assured that mesh wasn’t being used at all.
Forty-six-year old Bonita Barrett, who lives near York is one of the group of 40 women involved in the product liability class action the firm is leading. Mrs Barrett had mesh surgery in 2015 as an ‘add on’ when treated for prolapse, and has been in constant pain ever since.
The pain she experienced was such that she was rarely able to visit her father who was dying of cancer, as she found it difficult to get up and move around on account of her severe discomfort, and had to stop working for the family’s food producing business. She lost her independence and became reliant on her husband and children for everything.
“Mesh has not only destroyed my life but it’s also ruined my family’s,” Bonita Barrett said. “Nobody wants to see their mum, wife or daughter in this sort of pain, especially when it shouldn't have happened in the first place. And I'm just one of thousands affected by mesh. It’s a disgrace.
“I used to have a great family life, a great job and a great social life. Now I’m a shell of who I used to be.”
Linda Millband, national clinical negligence lead at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “All of those we represent have suffered unimaginable pain from mesh, physically and emotionally. They have seen their marriages and relationships break under the strain, not to mention the constant pain they’re in.
“Incorrectly inserted mesh implants is one of the biggest UK health scandals since thalidomide. Mesh is promised as a ‘wonder solution’ to many health concerns, especially for women, but those we represent had little to no understanding of what they were agreeing to when they said yes to surgical intervention. They have been left with permanent injuries that have affected their work and relationships, and inflicted psychological trauma.”
For years, people have campaigned against the use of mesh implants. In February 2018, Baroness Cumberlege was asked by the government to carry out an independent review of medical interventions, including surgical mesh, and her Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review is due to be published on 8 July.
Ms Millband added: “We’re committed to fighting for our clients and ensuring those responsible are held accountable for the devastating impact mesh has had on their lives.”