Hundreds of women left in severe discomfort as a result of vaginal mesh implants are set to take legal action against the NHS and product manufacturers.
The plastic mesh is used to treat organ prolapse and incontinence, usually after childbirth. There are around 1,500 implants carried out in the UK each year to support the vaginal wall or nearby organs such as the bladder or bowel, according to the NHS.
In the majority of cases the procedure works but more than 800 women who have suffered painful and distressing complications are suing the health service and makers of the mesh.
In one extreme case, a woman told The BBC Victoria Derbyshire show how she had faced 53 hospital admissions to try to end the pain but has been left with permanent nerve damage.
The plastic meshes are made of polypropylene – the same material used to make drinks bottles – and manufactured by a number of different companies.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says it has received more than 1,000 complaints about vaginal mesh implants.
Labour MP Owen Smith, who is planning to hold a Parliamentary debate on the issue, called for an investigation into the use of vaginal mesh.
He told the BBC: “I think there is a really good case for saying ‘suspend its usage’ until there is clarity about the scale of the problems we’re facing.”
Between April 2007 and March 2015, 11,5000 women had vaginal mesh implants in England, according to NHS Digital. About one in 11 women has experienced problems, the data suggests.
Now, more than 800 women in the UK are taking legal action against the NHS and manufacturers, including US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the biggest makers of mesh implants. Its subsidiary, Ethicon, said it was “vigorously defending litigation”.
The meshes are still prescribed on the NHS across the UK, although a recent review in Scotland said they should not be routinely used for pelvic organ prolapse.
Experts believe if the women are successful in their legal case, the NHS payout for compensation could be tens of millions of pounds.
An NHS England spokesman said: “We have listened carefully to issues raised through a working group of women affected, which has made recommendations to improve the quality of care and information available. We are making progress in completing these changes and a final report setting out the action taken will be published later this year.”
How can our medical negligence lawyers help?
If you’ve suffered from pain or other complications as a result of a vaginal mesh implant, then our solicitors could help you claim compensation.
Gotelee has a wealth of experience representing clients in medical negligence claims, handling your case with sensitivity and care. Our expert lawyers will make the whole process as simple as possible and help you access specialist care as part of our service.