Surgeon warned patient safety experts that mesh implants were risky but they took no notice of him
PUBLISHED: 14:46 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:46 13 October 2017
A surgeon has told how he advised medical guideline experts that mesh was risky as long ago as 2003 - but they ignored him.
Vincent Argent, a gynaecologist who refused to use mesh implants, said: “I strongly advised NICE that mesh procedures were risky and there was a major lack of safety data and long term outcomes.
“The advice was over-ruled by surgeons with a vested interest in promoting mesh procedures.
“The Government must act as this is the biggest scandal since the thalidomide case.
“Vaginal mesh operations are Russian Roulette procedures.
“The real risk of complications is about one in six. This is very common on the nationally agreed scale of risk and high for an operation for a benign, but distressing, condition.”
The revelation comes as pressure mounts from campaigners around the world for the procedure to be banned saying it is the biggest health scandal of this century.
Journalist Kath Sansom, who launched Sling The Mesh in 2015, said the operation, which uses a mesh implant to strengthen weakened pelvic floors of women often caused by childbirth, said it has destroyed the lives of thousands globally.
The mesh is also used to fix hernias.
Kath’s campaign has been backed by Labour front benchers who are calling for a public inquiry like that running in Australia where Kath and Scottish campaigners gave evidence last month.
The scandal-hit mesh implants will be debated in Westminster on Wednesday 18 amid mounting pressure to suspend the controversial procedure while a full audit is carried out.
More than 100,000 women have received mesh implants and tapes across the UK in the last 10 years alone.
The debate was secured by MP Emma Hardy, who said: “After meeting with women from my constituency regarding Sling The Mesh I’m delighted to have secured a debate on this issue.”
MP Owen Smith leads an all party parliamentary group (APPG) into mesh. He said: “I will invite all 650 MPs. This is a serious health issue and is not going away.”
Kath said: “When we first hit media headlines six months ago we had 1,100 members and now we have more than tripled to 3,400.
“We have people joining daily who feel isolated and alone, they truly thought, as their surgeons had led them to believe, they were a mystery patient.
“We are delighted that at last our voices are being heard. We want to protect women of the future from being damaged from what is sold as a simple 20 minute fix yet has devastating quality of life risks.”
For women worldwide, promised a quick fix to embarrassing problem of prolapse or incontinence, the operation has left some losing full use of their legs, some are in wheelchairs or use sticks, suffering chronic pain, UTIs and many have lost sex lives.
Some are suicidal and others have considered Dignitas rather than face a daily battle with excruciating pain.
After previously denying their implants were causing women’s discomfort, mesh manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay out $57 million to a sufferer from Philadelphia last month after a jury found the company negligent and its product defective.
The giant has appealed.
The NHS and MHRA state risk is only one to three per cent of women will suffer complications.
Carl Heneghan, a professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, has also called for a public inquiry.
Shadow health minister Sharon Hodgson has backed him, and said the procedure carries “unacceptable complication rates.”
During health questions in the Commons Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price told MPs she knew many women suffer substantial side effects and complications after the procedure, but it was ‘equally the case that many women also experience considerable relief from symptoms’.
She said NICE strongly recommends the implants are not offered routinely for the first surgical intervention in prolapse, and that the current guidance was being updated and would be published early next year.
MP Paul Masterton said: “Women like Elaine Holmes, co-founder of the Scottish Mesh Survivors group, have to live with the catastrophic consequences of transvaginal mesh implants.
“With health regulators across the globe now waking up to the scandal and issuing alerts or de registering mesh devices, will Ministers join me in urging the MHRA immediately to reclassify this damaging procedure as high risk?”
MP Karin Smyth added that hearing how mesh has ruined previously healthy women’s lives is “truly harr