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by Andrew Learmonth
24 November 2021
Scottish Parliament backs mesh compensation legislation

Scottish Parliament backs mesh compensation legislation

MSPs have unanimously backed plans to pay the costs for mesh implant removal surgery

The Transvaginal Mesh Removal (Cost Reimbursement) (Scotland) Bill received cross-party support at Holyrood on Wednesday, passing with no objections.

The use of mesh implants - often used to treat conditions some women suffer after childbirth, such as incontinence and prolapse - was halted in Scotland in 2018 after hundreds of women were left with painful, life-changing side effects.

Over 20 years, more than 20,000 women in Scotland were given the implants. The surgery is complex and can often cost between £16,000 and £23,000. 

In March the Scottish government said that it would pay for women to travel to St Louis, Missouri, for treatment by the acclaimed surgeon Dr Dionysios Veronikis.

However, ahead of today’s debate in Holyrood, Mesh campaigners staged a protest outside the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow over the time taken to get help. 

Isabelle McLafferty, of Scottish Mesh Survivors, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland that patients had to be assessed in Glasgow but new referrals were taking "anything up to two years".

She said: "Women are receiving appointments and then it is being cancelled a week in advance.

"One lady had been scheduled to be seen today and is now not being seen until May/June 2022."

Asked how she was managing, the retired teacher said: "Each day can be completely different. I don't plan anything anymore.

"Each day I can wake up and one day I can be fine, other days I am in pain constantly down my leg which creates issues with my mobility."

She added that she also suffers from intermittent issues with her bowel and bladder.

In Holyrood, Yousaf said he hoped to finalise contracts for the mesh removal with clinics in Bristol and Missouri "as quickly as we possibly can". 

"I know they have been waiting too long and I promise them I don't want them to be waiting any longer than they have to," he said.

He told MSPs: “Many of us have heard directly from women about the physical symptoms but also the mental distress they suffered, which was often made worse because they felt that their experiences were simply not taken seriously enough when they sought help.”

He added: “I completely understand that there are a number of women who have lost trust in our NHS.

“I will work hard to rebuild that, but I also know, from having talked to a number of mesh survivors, that they feel that trust is broken beyond repair. And I am sorry for that.”

Tory health spokesman, and practising GP, Sandesh Gulhane said: "The very least we can do together is ensure that any woman who received this treatment in Scotland would be compensated for the money they have paid out for mesh removal services, even if they had that treatment overseas."

Gulhane added: “Over a 20-year period, in Scotland alone, over 20,000 women underwent mesh surgery and thousands are believed to have suffered in varying degrees from the effects.

“Some 600 women have resorted to taking legal action.”

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