New national mesh removal service set up in Scotland

Specialist service for women who require surgery due to complications from vaginal mesh implants.

A new national mesh removal service will be established for women in Scotland.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said she has asked the NHS to set up a designated service for those who require specialist surgery due to mesh complications.

Vaginal mesh implants were used to treat conditions some women suffer after childbirth such as incontinence and prolapse, but many women experienced crippling long-term side-effects.

The practice was suspended in Scotland in all but exceptional circumstances in 2014, then stopped entirely by Freeman in 2018.

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A campaign group of mesh survivors met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last November to press their demands.

The new complex mesh removal surgical service will be backed by an initial £1.3m of Scottish Government funding and be based in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, while offering a nationwide service.

It will provide comprehensive assessments and vaginal mesh removal surgery for women over the age of 16 with complications.

The service will also offer mental health support.

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It will be gradually reintroduced from next month as the NHS continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month a £1m fund to support women with mesh complications opened for applications.

Jeane Freeman said: “We recognise the distressing physical and emotional effects which mesh complications have had on women and we have already taken strong and decisive action, including halting the use of transvaginal mesh and developing a case note review.

“I have now asked NHS national services division (NSD) to establish a national designated service for complex mesh removal for those who require specialist surgery to mitigate complications of their surgery.

“We have listened to the women affected by mesh complications and this new service reflects their wish to have clear, single national pathway for treatment.                                           

“Ongoing follow-up for pain management, psychological and psychosexual needs will be provided within services commissioned locally by the NHS boards where patients live so their care can be delivered as close to home as possible.”