Women deserve better, say campaigners
Women have voiced their frustration that a year since Baroness Cumberlege published her scathing First Do No Harm report the only thing the Government has achieved is a half-hearted apology from Matt Hancock.
Politicians from all parties are meeting to call for action in a debate in Parliament on the one-year anniversary since the Cumberlege report was published https://firstdonoharmappg.org.uk/category/news/
The back-bench debate is on Thursday July, 8, and is being led by MP Emma Hardy and Shadow Health Minister Alex Norris.
Emma Hardy, MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) into mesh, said: “Women deserve better than the Government’s refusal to implement the Baroness Cumberlege recommendations. The recommendations will not only make life better for those living with mesh complications, they will also improve patient safety for everyone in the future.”
The First Do No Harm report looked at the dismissive attitude towards women harmed by mesh implants, and also women and their babies harmed by Primodos pregnancy testing drug and epilepsy drug Sodium Valproate. Primodos was discontinued in the 1970s. Sodium Valproate is still used today and there are fears women are still not being warned of the risks to their unborn baby if they take it during pregnancy.
The debate is calling for all Cumberlege recommendations to be implemented without further delay, including financial redress for women and sweeping reform of the healthcare and regulation framework.
It is also calling for a retrospective audit of mesh to work out the number of women suffering. The Cumberlege report suggests contacting all women who had mesh in the year 2010 to see how they are in 2021.
Kath Sansom, founder of campaign group Sling The Mesh, which has 9,000 members, said: “Mesh for stress incontinence was suspended in 2018 and we believe it should not be brought back until the audit is carried out until we know the true scale of complications. Scottish Government have pledged to never bring it back. Sadly, surgeons in England are pushing for it to be used again.”
Included in the recommendations is a call for industry to declare all monies and gifts to doctors, teaching hospitals and research institutions.
Kath said: “In post pandemic times it is more important than ever to know who is funding our research and prescribing decisions. In America there is a Sunshine Payment Act, forcing healthcare giants, who make billions in profits, to declare all the money and non-financial gifts they hand out. It has been proved such funding leads to bias in prescribing and bias in the scientific research. We need this legislation for the UK. That way campaigners and patients can see who is funding a doctor’s voice.”
Meantime, in Northern Ireland and Wales, mesh injured women have been left virtually high and dry and will be looking to the debate for hope.
Susan McLarnon of Sling The Mesh Northern Ireland, said: “Mesh services are next to non-existent. No formal announcement has been made since the new centres opened on 1st April. Patients who are lucky enough to get a gynaecology appointment are still being told mesh isn’t the issue. They are still in denial. Women have been left in limbo. Suffering horrendous pain with nowhere to turn. Some are being told to complain to their MP yet nobody is listening to us.”
Karen Preater, of Mesh Awareness Wales, added: “Other than when the Cumberlege report came out, there has been no statements or correspondence, I have emailed several times asking about a Patient Safety Commissioner and have had no responses. South Wales have their centre. North Wales are told to use Manchester. Total silence from the Welsh Government.”
The Parliamentary debate will look at the black hole in official statistics, which means nobody knows how many women have been harmed.
Kath said: “We are deeply concerned about a significant discrepancy between NHS figures and surgeon data on mesh complications – we fear surgeons have downplayed complications by almost ten times. The truth is nobody knows the scale of this women’s health scandal and the only way to get to the bottom of it is a retrospective audit.”
See the question to Parliament on discrepancy of the figures about the number of women suffering here: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-04/163289
BLOG by MP Emma Hardy: Mesh surgery is costing the NHS millions https://www.emmahardy.org.uk/2018/04/18/mesh-surgery-failure-is-costing-the-nhs-millions-of-pounds/
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