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Holyrood committee calls for halt to use of mesh products in Scotland

Holyrood committee calls for halt to use of mesh products in Scotland

Scottish Parliament - Image credit: Holyrood

A Scottish Parliament committee is calling on the Scottish Government to halt the use of mesh procedures in Scotland until there is confidence in the findings of the independent review set up to examine the controversial procedure.  

The Public Petitions Committee has been considering evidence on the issues highlighted by a petition lodged in April 2014 by Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy on behalf of the Scottish Mesh Survivors' 'Hear our Voice' campaign.

The petition, which calls for a range of actions, including the suspension of mesh procedures and improved recording and reporting mechanisms, was brought forward after women experienced debilitating and life changing complications from the procedure, which are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

An independent review into the use of the procedures was announced by the Scottish Government in June 2014, when it also asked health boards to stop the procedure until the conclusion of the review, and was published in March 2017.

Following controversy over the review itself, Professor Alison Britton of Glasgow Caledonian University was asked to examine and report on the independent review process.

The committee has now published a report criticising the continued use of the procedure in Scotland despite the request for a moratorium.

The committee also raises concerns about the independent review and that the women were not believed when reporting complications to medical professionals.

Among the criticisms raised are that there seems to be a lack of urgency on the part of the Scottish Government about making sure patients are being provided with appropriate information and with many patients finding difficulty in being believed, the committee recommends that the Scottish Government look at what steps can be taken to ensure that patient voices are listened to.

The committee also reports that there are concerns about using the final report of the independent review as a basis for clinical and patient decisions.

The committee's says it wants an end to the use of mesh devices in Scotland and calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that no mesh procedures are carried out in Scotland until the committee, the parliament and the public can have confidence in the findings of the review.

It also asks that the Scottish Government provides a full update to Parliament on progress toward implementing the recommendations of the final report, and an opportunity for a debate once the report is published.

Johann Lamont MSP, convener of the Public Petitions Committee, said: "I am grateful to the petitioners, Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy, for bringing forward this petition and I commend their courage and commitment in the face of their trauma.

“Seeing and hearing the experiences of the many women we have heard from during our consideration of this petition was incredibly emotional, with the physical and mental impact plain to see.

"One of the most important things to come out of this report was the extent to which women were not believed when they were highlighting their concerns to the medical profession, ultimately resulting in there being no record of their concerns.

“Now that we have published this report, we urge the Scottish Government to respond to our recommendations and the concerns of women."

Angus MacDonald MSP, deputy convener of the committee, said: "As deputy convener and having served on the public petitions committee for the whole period that this petition has been live, I've been struck by the cross-party support that's been shown.

“The committee members stand firmly behind this report, particularly given the recent announcement in England of a temporary ban and the subsequent announcement in Northern Ireland.

"The committee expects a positive response from the Scottish Government, particularly given we're awaiting the review of the review from Professor Alison Britton which will hopefully shed some more light on this extremely upsetting saga."

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