Australia has recently banned the use of the controversial Vaginal Mesh Surgery treatment – TVT (tension-free vaginal tape surgery) as many who have received the treatment have been left with crippling pain and discomfort.
Vaginal Mesh Surgery or TVT, (tension-free vaginal tape surgery) is where a piece of mesh is placed into the vagina to combat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence and is often given as a treatment for issues that typically affect women years after childbirth. NICE, the UK health Watchdog, have urged Britain to do the same. It is thought that more than 92,000 women have had vaginal mesh implants between 2007 and 2015 and about one in 11 are said to have complications. More than 800 of these women are now taking legal action against the NHS and the TVT mesh manufacturers.
A campaign group called Sling the Mesh, now have more than 3,000 members who all say they have suffered from significant health issues after the mesh has eroded inside them, causing the patients internal lacerations and nerve damage. One woman estimates that the endless appointments have cost her £10,000 as she was forced to seek help privately, as well as a loss in earnings. This latest medical scandal is noted as being on par with the thalidomide scandal.
Hundreds of women are now in legal battles against the providers of the mesh and the NHS, who have advised thousands of women to have the procedure instead of more traditional surgeries such as Colposuspension, where the front wall of the vagina is lifted to stop incontinence. Although the use of mesh for prolapse in the UK has fallen significantly in recent years, with growing evidence that it is less effective than traditional surgery and has higher rates of women experiencing problems, it is still being used.
MPs including Jon Ashworth – shadow health minister, Sarah Wollaston – Conservative MP, former GP and chair of the health select committee. Jackie Doyle-Price, the under-secretary of state for health, have all advised that the mesh should indeed be banned in the UK.
They are demanding the Government suspend all pelvic mesh implants while a retrospective audit is carried out to find out the true level of the suffering it has caused for women in this country.
It has been advised that there should be much tougher regulations on devices such as the implant. In the US, vaginal mesh has been seen as high-risk for nearly 10 years, and some studies have suggested that subsequent pain and perforation can affect up to 75 per cent of women. There needs to be more research into the use of this mesh as many women are now seeking damage claims and suits against the NHS and the manufacturers of the mesh.
Many women who received the treatment feel like they have been misled, while others are saying they were never made aware of the dangers and complications that can arise before, during and after receiving the surgery. The severe complications suffered by a large number of patients, including chronic pain, mesh cutting through tissue into the vagina and being left unable to walk or have sex are the driving force urging women across the country to seek damages.
This scandal is medical negligence on a grand scale. The information and data available for such widely used treatment is so vague that it is now a matter of urgency that more research be carried out with regards to risk and success of the mesh implant. The result of this scandal is that there will be more women in the UK suffering and seeking medical help and more medical negligence claims being made against the NHS and the mesh manufacturers.
For many women who have undergone this treatment and suffered from the subsequent surgery, there is a growing number of them who feel they have suffered unnecessarily due to lack of information given and a limited amount of research into the procedure. We often put our faith and trust in the medical advice we are given, so when something of this magnitude happens its seems as though we have been kept in the dark about the real truth and outcome many modern-day treatments offer us.
Although there is pressure to ban this product, it was last week announced that while new guidance on the mesh would be published later this year (earlier than its scheduled release in 2019), an inquiry would not be launched.