We have represented many women and their families who have suffered as a result of pelvic mesh implants.
These clients suffered life-changing injuries after surgery for urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse and have fought harrowing battles as a result of their injuries, against chronic pain, ongoing incontinence and infection.
Many had to give up their jobs, relationships, hobbies and interests as a consequence, yet their voices were dismissed and their concerns labelled ‘women’s problems.’
Secretary of state apologises
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has apologised to the women affected by this scandal, following the publication of ‘First Do No Harm – The Report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review’ on July 8. Within it, chair, Baroness Julia Cumberlege, sets out a catalogue of missed opportunities and lessons for the future.
The report comes hot on the heels of court judgements in Australia and Scotland, in which mesh manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, reached compensation settlements totaling $2.6 million and £50 million respectively.
Pelvic mesh, made from polypropylene, came to market in the mid-1950s, after it was successfully used in hernia repairs and it obtained Food and Drug Administration approval in the 1990s. Injuries caused by the implants have resulted in one of the largest health scandals since thalidomide in the 1950s and 60s and its use was suspended by central government on July 10 2018, following calls in the House of Commons for a full public inquiry.
Baroness Cumberlege’s report is the result of two years’ investigation and interviews into the harm caused by pelvic mesh, anti-epileptic medication and hormone pregnancy tests. It has made damning findings and disappointingly, notes the healthcare system does not adequately recognise that patients are its raison d’etre.
The long-awaited review came after years of campaigning by groups, such as Sling the Mesh and specifically, it acknowledges that manufacturers and healthcare providers were motivated by profit, speed to market and returns for shareholders. It notes patients’ concerns were not taken seriously and the system fostered a culture of blame and defensiveness.
Recommendations and redress
The report concluded medicine is too complex to be left solely in the hands of clinicians and has, therefore, made nine recommendations to ensure lessons are learned for the future.
Principally, Baroness Cumberlege wants to see an independent Patient Safety Commissioner appointed to champion patients and use their perspectives to improve safety around the use of devices such as pelvic mesh.
Linked to this recommendation, the report suggests establishing a Redress Agency to supplement litigation, echoing similar schemes for injuries as a result of contaminated blood products in France, which provides compensation through central government funding.
The Redress Agency would administer all public schemes, giving patients one point of contact, whilst compensation could be provided through a variety of means, including state funding. This mechanism would not replace litigation, but could be used as alternative dispute resolution, avoiding the need for victims to go to trial.
We wait to see how government will implement these recommendations and administer compensation. We can only hope it operates efficiently and quickly, to provide the support so many women need to meet the costs of the additional care they require.
We are an experienced and knowledgeable team, who have worked with many women injured by pelvic mesh over the last four years. If you have any questions about obtaining compensation or justice for injuries caused by a medicine or medical procedure, contact our friendly, professional solicitors on (0114) 218 4000 or email: email@example.com