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National mesh removal service to be set up in Scotland

Surgical mesh - Image credit: Wikimedia CC 3.0

National mesh removal service to be set up in Scotland

A national mesh removal service is to be set up in Scotland for women who have suffered complications from vaginal mesh implants.

The new service will provide comprehensive assessments and specialist mesh removal surgery for women over the age of 16 who have mesh complications, along with psychological support.

Delivered by a multi-disciplinary team within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and backed by more than £1.3m of Scottish Government funding, the service will be introduced from next month.

Mesh implants were used to treat conditions such as incontinence and prolapse after childbirth, but many women have experienced painful and debilitating side effects.

The use of vaginal mesh in Scotland was banned in all but exceptional circumstances in 2014 and stopped completely in September 2018, but many women still suffer the effects of existing mesh implants.

The launch of this new specialist service follows the announcement in May of £1m fund to support women with transvaginal mesh complications.

The scheme, which opened for applications at the start of July and will run until the end of June next year, offers women who have had complications after having vaginal mesh implanted through a Scottish health board a one-off payment of £1,000 towards emotional or practical support.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We recognise the distressing physical and emotional effects which mesh complications have had on women and we have already taken strong and decisive action, including halting the use of transvaginal mesh and developing a case note review.

“I have now asked NHS National Services Division (NSD) to establish a national designated service for complex mesh removal for those who require specialist surgery to mitigate complications of their surgery.

“We have listened to the women affected by mesh complications and this new service reflects their wish to have clear, single national pathway for treatment.                                           

“Ongoing follow-up for pain management, psychological and psychosexual needs will be provided within services commissioned locally by the NHS boards where patients live so their care can be delivered as close to home as possible.”

SNP MSP Alex Neil, who along with Labour MSP Neil Findlay and Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw has been campaigning for better treatment of women who have suffered due to mesh implants, said: “Today’s announcement is another step towards improving the lives of the women who have suffered the devastating effects of mesh implants.

“I’m delighted the Scottish Government has taken action to create a designated service for complex mesh removal – I know this move will be welcomed by campaigners who have called for a national pathway for treatment for some time.  

“Confirmation from the Health Secretary that follow-up appointments for patients will be carried out by local health boards, so ongoing care can be delivered closer to home, will also be appreciated by suffers, campaigners and politicians alike.”

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