Leaked documents show a powerful patient safety group wants to keep the mesh implant scandal hidden
PUBLISHED: 12:47 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 19 April 2017
A health watchdog body, set up to protect patients, has admitted it wants to “avoid media attention on mesh.”
Documents leaked to the Cambs Times, just hours ahead of the mesh implant scandal going on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire Show, show the group wants to divert attention away from the controversial medical device.
A medical specialist and publicity campaign officer from the watchdog body, the MHRA, have been tasked with making sure they advertise its problem reporting website without making the focus on mesh.
Our reporter Kath Sansom said: “What a great shame that a group tasked with safeguarding patients, wants to keep a problem reporting page away from the media spotlight.
“Let’s hope the Victoria Derbyshire coverage will truly focus on the risks of this horrendous operation.
“I urge anybody who has suffered from a mesh implant to report their complication to the MHRA Yellow Card system - that’s the one the MHRA don’t want the media to know about,”
The leaked document talks of the MHRA Yellow Card, a little heard of scheme, where patients can report fake medicines, concerns about side effects of e cigarettes, bad side effects of medicines or problems with medical implants like mesh.
The leaked document says: “The MHRA outlined their Yellow Card campaign targeting under-reporting of mesh complications.
“Mesh is first phase of ongoing Yellow Card campaign.
It adds that staff must: “Look into taking the press element out of the mesh Yellow Card campaign,” and “Investigate whether there can be a general Yellow Card campaign of which mesh is one element, to avoid media attention on mesh.”
The minutes come from the last meeting of the English Group Working Party (EGWP), set up in 2014, to look at the safety of the polypropylene mesh devices used to treat incontinence and prolapse.
One of the aims of the EGWP was to publicise the Yellow Card system so that women would know where to go to report problems if they had suffered from a mesh implant - because by their own admission - the MHRA says mesh complications are under reported.
Mark Wilcox, a campaign specialist from the communications team and Sally Mounter, medical device specialist at the MHRA, have been tasked with finding a way of avoiding media attention.
The EGWP independent review is supposed to look at a wide range of information from medical experts and patient representatives to work out if the implants are safe.
However, the patient representatives have not been invited to meetings for more than a year.
Two years ago, patient rep and Sling The Mesh campaigner Ann Boni, resigned from the working party over whitewash claims.
A similar “independent review” has just ended in Scotland where the chairman, two patient reps and a medical expert resigned over similar whitewash claims.
The outcome in Scotland was that mesh implants - suspended in Scotland in June 2014 - were reinstated in March.
Campaigners are taking their fight to a legal challenge.