Mesh patients to be able to travel to US for removal surgery

A new deal means that women from Scotland can travel to Missouri for mesh removal surgery free of charge.

NHS Scotland signs deal for vaginal mesh patients to undergo expert removal surgery in United States iStock

The Scottish Government has officially signed a contract which will allow women to have painful mesh implants removed by a specialist surgeon in the United States free of charge.

The deal allows NHS patients in Scotland to travel to Dr Dionysios Veronikis’ clinic in Missouri for transvaginal mesh removal surgery.

A contract with Spire Healthcare, where Professor Hashim Hashim operates, was agreed earlier this year, giving women the option to go to Bristol for the surgery.

The procedure, plus associated costs such as travel and accommodation, will be paid for by the NHS.

Mesh implants have not been used in vaginal surgeries in Scotland since 2018, when ministers put a moratorium in place after women who had undergone the procedure complained of painful and debilitating complications.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf apologised to women who had experienced such effects of the implants.

Speaking to STV News he said: “I’m really sorry for the distrust that those women feel and I understand it because I’ve spoken to many mesh survivors who tell me they were simply not believed when they turned up to the NHS in Scotland and complained about excruciating pain that they were feeling.”

As part of a process agreed with independent providers, women seeking transvaginal mesh removal surgery would first need to be referred to the Complex Pelvic Mesh Removal Service in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

NHS National Services Scotland will now work closely with the health board and others across Scotland to take forward arrangements for those who wish to travel to the USA for mesh removal surgery. 

If it is agreed the procedure is appropriate for them, they can then choose to be treated at that clinic, or be referred to a specialist NHS centre in England or to one of the independent providers such as Dr Veronikis.

Yousaf added: “There is a thorough process to go through and that process is important, we will try to make it as quick and expedient as possible but it is important that clinicians do look at an individual woman’s case and if that individual woman does wish to go to the United States then we do our best to try and make that happen – so we won’t put up any unnecessary barriers in your way. 

“The direction from me as the cabinet secretary for health has been that the woman’s preference has to be the primary consideration.”

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