Some women’s mesh implant problems don’t begin until up to seven years later, survey shows

PUBLISHED: 11:02 14 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 May 2017

Women globally are urging surgeons to stop using mesh implants and isntead offer traditional repairs PHOTO: pexels

Women globally are urging surgeons to stop using mesh implants and isntead offer traditional repairs PHOTO: pexels

Archant

A worrying number of doctors do not understand mesh implant surgery complications so will not know what to do if a woman presents with problems - which can be years later, according to a survey.

The mesh implant scandal was featured on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show in April. Seen here interviewing reporter Kath Sansom, Claire Cooper and Kate Langley. The mesh implant scandal was featured on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show in April. Seen here interviewing reporter Kath Sansom, Claire Cooper and Kate Langley.

Some women said that problems did not start until up to seven years later.

The patient forum survey showed that two in ten GPs didn’t know what the surgery was and almost half did not believe women when they said their problems were mesh implant related.

The survey results come just weeks after MP Paula Sherriff launched the All Party Parliamentary Group (APGG) into women’s health to make sure females were listened to and treated with dignity and respect.

In her group’s launch report Ms Sherriff says: “The group has heard of areas of health care where women receive worse outcomes due to a lack of awareness.

The All Party Parliamentary Group into women's health was launched by Paula Sherriff to call for respect and dignity in all areas of women's healthcare PHOTO: APPG Report The All Party Parliamentary Group into women's health was launched by Paula Sherriff to call for respect and dignity in all areas of women's healthcare PHOTO: APPG Report

“All too often I have heard of women being marginalised and side-lined when they try to seek help, dismissed and not taken seriously.

“This needs to stop. Women have a right to be heard and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at all times.”

A survey of 123 patients on Sling The Mesh forum showed that 20 per cent of doctors did not know about the mesh implant surgery for incontinence or prolapse and a further 45 per cent did not believe a woman’s pain was related to that procedure.

The survey, carried out this month, showed that more than seven out of 10 people (73 per cent) suffered a complication within the first year.

Leaked document of the English Group Working Party into mesh implants - group members agreed to try to reduce media impact of mesh relating to Yellow Card reporting. Patient reps have not been invited to any meetings for more than a year. PHOTO: Contributed Leaked document of the English Group Working Party into mesh implants - group members agreed to try to reduce media impact of mesh relating to Yellow Card reporting. Patient reps have not been invited to any meetings for more than a year. PHOTO: Contributed

For almost two out of ten (17 per cent) problems started between year one and three.

Some problems did not cut in for some women until seven years later.

Only six out of ten of those people suffering sought medical help in the first year (63 per cent) while two out of ten asked for help between one and three years (20 per cent).

Almost one in ten sought help between one and three years, while 7.5 per cent asked for medical help up to seven years later.

The survey also showed that more than half of those surveyed (56 per cent) had not reported their mesh pain and complications to the Government watchdog body’s MHRA Yellow Card system.

This is the official logging system that lets the Government know how many people have had problems with medical devices, drugs or concerns like e cigarettes.

The under reporting means the figures quoted by the MHRA are only telling half the story.

The MHRA say this surgery carries a risk of one to three per cent but campaigners say this figure is grossly under reported.

• Two reports released in 2015 says mesh degrades in the body. When queried about these reports the MHRA said: “This will contribute to our on-going work in monitoring the safety and performance of these medical devices.

“We note that this study concludes that both physical and chemical aspects of polypropylene degradation need to be studied more extensively for their roles in the development of complications, which we fully agree with.”

• However, the spokesman added: “Any women who are concerned should speak to their doctor or surgeon.”

The same doctors who, as the study suggests, often do not believe mesh has anything to do with a woman’s mesh pain.

• The MHRA spokesman said: “We have listened to and understand the concerns that many women have, for the majority the use of vaginal mesh implants is safe and effective and can greatly help in dealing with upsetting conditions such as urinary stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

“We undertook extensive analysis of transvaginal tapes and meshes at the request of the Chief Medical Officer for England and our findings show that the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.

• They said: “As with all medical devices we will continue to monitor their safety and performance and we encourage women to report any adverse incidents to us via our Yellow Card scheme.”

The same Yellow Card Scheme that a leaked document shows the MHRA wants to keep out of the media spotlight.

• MP Paula Sherriff concentrated her launch report on endometriosis and fibroids but it is hoped other women’s health conditions will be taken on board as the group gathers momentum. Read her report here.

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