The Scottish Government has been told there is a “strong case” for allowing more women to benefit from legislation which would see them recoup the costs of private mesh removal surgery.
Members of Holyrood’s Health Committee have backed a Bill from the Scottish Government which would reimburse those who have paid for the operation to be done outside of the NHS.
It comes in the wake of a moratorium on vaginal mesh surgery in Scotland after a number of women reported suffering painful and debilitating side effects.
In June, the Scottish Government confirmed it would reimburse the cost of private surgery for women who have already had mesh implants removed.
Such surgeries cost between £16,000 and £23,000, and the Transvaginal Mesh Removal (Cost Reimbursement) (Scotland) Bill proposes a scheme to reimburse those who have paid for private treatment.
Holyrood’s Health Committee has now given its backing to the general principles of the legislation saying it sets out “to ensure fairness and parity of treatment for all individuals in relation to transvaginal mesh removal services”.
But they added that “greater clarity” was needed about the residency criteria to be used to determine which women would qualify.
The committee stated: “There is a strong case for individuals who had their original mesh implant surgery undertaken by NHS Scotland but who were not ordinarily resident in Scotland at the time their mesh removal surgery was arranged to also qualify for reimbursement under the terms of the Bill.
“The committee supports a widening of the eligibility criteria in such cases, provided those individuals have not already claimed for reimbursement of these costs elsewhere.”
Convener Gillian Martin said: “The committee heard first-hand of the traumatic experiences of women negatively affected by transvaginal mesh surgery.
“This emphasises the importance of providing reimbursement to those who have arranged mesh removal surgery and why this Bill is so important.
“Our committee supports the general principles of this Bill and the goal of ensuring fairness for all individuals affected. At the same time, the evidence we have gathered also highlights the need for more clarity on various aspects of the reimbursement scheme.”
Martin said MSPs on the committee wanted to “put on record our thanks to all of the women who shared their personal experience with us, which has proved invaluable in our scrutiny of this Bill”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Any woman who has suffered pain and life-changing complications caused by mesh implants should have access to the best possible care, and we recognise the serious distress that may have led women to using their own funds to seek mesh removal surgery privately.
“This legislation aims to help those who have undergone private treatment by allowing these past costs to be refunded.
“We know some women feel let down by the NHS when they presented with complications and that is simply unacceptable. We are working to build confidence in our Scottish services and the various projects underway, including the Case Record Review and our work with the Health and Social Care Alliance will support this.
“Nonetheless, alternative options will be available to those who feel unable to be treated in Scotland, achieving the ultimate objective on ensuring all people get the treatment and care that they need.
“We are grateful for the committee’s support and will continue to work with members as the Bill goes through the appropriate Parliamentary passage.”