Campaign group look for Wales to follow Scotland's lead
12:44pm Tuesday 1st July 2014 in News
CAMPAIGNERS against the use of a controversial medical device are hoping that the Welsh Government follow the example set by Scotland who have sought to suspend the use of surgical mesh across their health boards.
Last month Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil requested that health boards immediately suspend the use of surgical mesh - used largely to treat women with pelvic organ issues - until more reviews can be conducted into the procedure which has left women all over the world in agony when the mesh erodes and migrates internally, perforating organs and becoming near impossible to remove.
The mesh has already become the subject of several successful lawsuits in the US and now with Scotland recognising the damage being done, Welsh campaigner Jemima Williams hopes that other countries soon follow suit.
Spearheading a campaign from her Barry home, Jemima began lobbying Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford after suffering for more than 12 years as a result of her operation. Something that fellow sufferers from all over the world have been contacting her to discuss since she spoke out about her problems.
With the help of solicitor Dr Sarah-Jane Richards of Secure Law Ltd, Jemima has called on Mr Drakeford to implement a national register to monitor and record the adverse effects being experienced by women who have had surgical mesh and tape implanted.
Mr Drakeford has responded saying that, because Wales lacks the devolved powers of Scotland, the monitoring and regulation of medical equipment is dealt with on a UK basis and as such the Welsh NHS is governed by guidelines set up by the UK's Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
He said that The Welsh Government has been working to ensure that Health Board directors and surgeons take into account MHRA findings from November 2013.
Dr Sarah-Richards responded: "The MHRA reported that over 13,000 operations using surgical tapes are performed on women each year.
"One of the studies it reported confirmed more than eight percent of women suffered erosion of their tapes within 12 months of their surgery.
"Based on this report’s conclusion within the first year, more than 1,040 women would have already reported erosion adverse symptoms and vulnerable to vital organs being perforated.
“The device becomes brittle and fragments over a much longer timescale and exposing far more women to these risks.
"Not one of the studies considered by the MHRA in its commission report examined the outcomes of the surgical mesh after three years and most only reported feedback between six to 12 months post surgery.
"There is currently no data upon which any professional organisation or Health Regulator can consider the long term safety of these tapes and mesh.
"Until the surgical outcome has been properly assessed the Scottish Parliament’s decision last week to suspend the use of these tapes and meshes is both responsible and proportionate.
"We ask the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services to exert all his influence to bring about a similar response for the women of Wales.”
Although disappointed by this response Jemima, 54, of Griffin Close, Barry feels that at least things are moving in the right direction slowly and still ultimately hopes to see the banning of surgical mesh for all but absolutely necessary procedures.
"The Welsh Government have got to sit up and take notice of what's happening in Scotland and think about what will happen if this carries on," she said.
Husband Dennis, a Barry GP, added: "Are the Welsh Government going to drag their heels now that Scotland have done this?
"Are we just going to sit on our hands and allow women in Wales to be implanted with this stuff?"
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