Inquiry into surgical mesh needed now

The Government must urgently launch a Ministerial inquiry into surgical mesh after more than 500 patients have lodged claims of complications with the ACC, say Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. 

“This is the most widespread crisis involving surgical devices in health and the Ministry of Health has adopted a hands off approach.

“The quality and safety information was not reviewed by Medsafe beforehand with disastrous consequences for patients. There are only a few specialists who are trained in removing surgical mesh, and patients are struggling to get their faulty implants removed. 

“Nothing is being done by the Government in terms of setting up a registry to track the use of mesh or to ensure a consistent monitoring approach. It’s been left up to district health boards to how they use and monitor surgical mesh. There is caution around these devices but it has come seven years too late. 

“The use of the mesh, which is used to repair vaginal prolapses, has been left in the hands of District Health Boards. Some, like the Auckland DHB use the mesh, others don’t use it all. 

“The Auckland DHB revealed in an Official Information Act request that 42 of their 192 patients reported complications. But they claimed this compared favourably with international complication rates. 

“Overseas, Scotland has suspended the use of mesh and the European Union is now investigating a reclassification of the device. 

“Jonathan Coleman needs to look at why there is no check on the quality and safety of devices like surgical mesh before they are used on Kiwis. 

“Patients have simply been left in the dark over whether mesh is safe and it’s clear there is no clear consistency in how and where it is used. 

“The Minister is ignoring women who are suffering from mesh complications. They have been told to go away. A Ministerial inquiry is now their only answer,” says Annette King.