Controversial mesh implant operations continued in Scotland

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Despite calls from Scottish ministers to cease controversial mesh implant operations as far back as June 2014, 404 Scottish women have since been subjected to the operation, many of them with catastrophic side effects.

Mesh implant operations have been carried out in women who suffered from incontinence and pelvic prolapse for more than twenty years but a worryingly large number of those women reported being left in wheelchairs with their lives ruined as a result of complications from the procedure. Then Health Secretary Alex Neil requested suspension of the procedure in 2014 pending an investigation into its effectiveness and safety adding that he was “deeply troubled” by what he had learned.

Although some health boards did suspend the procedures many other health boards did not. Greater Glasgow and Clyde alone carried out 178 of the implants and Lothian 146 since calls for its suspension.

One woman had a mesh implant operation following a hysterectomy and claimed it destroyed her life after losing her job as a result of the effects of the procedure. She underwent three further procedures to have the mesh removed only to be told that it was not possible to reverse the mesh implant and that it had now permanently adhered to her organs. She told BBC News that “When I went there was nothing about side effects, nothing at all. They said they would just fix me.” She later learnt that the daughter of a friend was looking into having the same mesh implant procedure to fix her bladder problems, aged only 19.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said that health boards were indeed asked to consider halting the use of synthetic mesh products in such incidences, but added that the service should still be offered to women who want to proceed with the operation.

Personal compensation lawyers are describing it as both straightforward medical negligence and a global health scandal as hundreds of women are now suing health boards for the procedure, subsequent procedures and the injuries sustained. The number of women affected coupled with the serious and life-changing injuries sustained by mesh implant operations could see some of the highest medical negligence compensation awards ever seen in Scotland.