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Halt mesh implants over safety concerns, says health secretary

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison will urge all health boards to suspend mesh implant operations.

Metal-on-metal hip implant advice

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison will urge all health boards to suspend mesh implant operations until an independent review into their use has published its report.

Ms Robison will write to NHS boards after it emerged that some are continuing to perform the procedure despite a call for a moratorium by her predecessor Alex Neil in June last year.

She also confirmed that women who have experienced complications as a result of mesh implants will be able to access specialist support through the NHS inform hotline, run by NHS 24.The Health Secretary met members of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign group earlier this week.

Mesh implants are aimed at treating prolapse and bladder problems, but some women have experienced painful complications.

Ms Robison said the Scottish Government will work with patient groups and NHS inform to develop the practical support service for women experiencing complications or who have concerns regarding their condition.

She said: "I had a very constructive meeting with members of the Scottish Mesh Survivors campaign group.

"I recognise the impact the procedure has had on these women and was keen to discuss with them ways in which the Scottish Government can offer support.

"As part of our discussions I was pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government will be able to arrange additional support for those affected by the procedure through the NHS inform hotline."We will be working closely with patient groups and NHS inform to develop this role.

"I am extremely concerned that women have suffered complications following their surgery. This is why we have set up an independent review, which is currently considering these issues and will make recommendations in the spring.

"Until then we have requested that all health boards continue to suspend the use of mesh implants, except where clinically advisable and provided the woman, aware of the risks, has fully consented.

"I will be writing again to all medical directors asking them to consider suspension while the independent review is carried out. This is the right thing to do and will allow a thorough assessment of the evidence before next steps are agreed."

The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates mesh products, published a report in October stating that "whilst some women have experienced distressing and severe effects, the current evidence shows that when these products are used correctly they can help alleviate the very distressing symptoms of SUI (stress urinary incontinence) and (pelvic organ prolapse), and as such the benefits still outweigh the risks".

It continued: "In line with other medical device regulators worldwide we are not aware of a robust body of evidence to suggest that these devices are unsafe if used properly as intended and therefore should be removed from the market."

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