A Holyrood committee is calling on the Scottish Government to halt the use of mesh procedures in Scotland, until there is confidence in the findings of the Independent Review set up to examine the controversial procedure.
The Public Petitions Committee has been considering evidence on the issues highlighted by a petition lodged in April 2014 by Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy on behalf of the Scottish Mesh Survivors' 'Hear our Voice' campaign.
The petition, which calls for a range of actions, including the suspension of mesh procedures and improved recording and reporting mechanisms, was brought forward after women experienced debilitating and life changing complications from the procedure, used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The Independent Review into the use and safety of the procedures was announced by the Scottish Government in June 2014 when it also requested health boards to stop the procedure until the conclusion of the review.
The Committee has now published a report criticising the continued use of the procedure in Scotland despite the request for a moratorium. The Committee also raises concerns about the Independent Review, and expresses its alarm that the women were not believed when reporting complications to medical professionals.
Johann Lamont MSP, Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, said:
"I am grateful to the petitioners, Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy, for bringing forward this petition and I commend their courage and commitment in the face of their trauma. Seeing and hearing the experiences of the many women we have heard from during our consideration of this petition was incredibly emotional, with the physical and mental impact plain to see.
"One of the most important things to come out of this report was the extent to which women were not believed when they were highlighting their concerns to the medical profession, ultimately resulting in there being no record of their concerns. Now that we have published this report, we urge the Scottish Government to respond to our recommendations and the concerns of women."
Angus MacDonald MSP, Deputy Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, said:
"As Deputy Convener and having served on the public petitions committee for the whole period that this petition has been live, I've been struck by the cross-party support that's been shown. The Committee members stand firmly behind this report, particularly given the recent announcement in England of a temporary ban and the subsequent announcement in Northern Ireland.
"The committee expects a positive response from the Scottish Government, particularly given we're awaiting the review of the review from Professor Alison Britton which will hopefully shed some more light on this extremely upsetting saga."
The conclusions and recommendations of the committee include:
- There are serious concerns about the final report of the Independent Review as a basis for allowing clinicians and patients to make fully informed decisions.
- There has been a perceived lack of urgency on the part of the Scottish Government about making sure patients are being provided with appropriate information in all contexts.
- The Committee's preference is for the use of mesh devices to cease in Scotland. We do, however, recognise that this is not something that is within the Committee's gift to deliver.
- With many patients finding difficulty in being believed, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government look at what steps can be taken to ensure that patient voices are listened to and heard.
- The Committee requests that the Scottish Government provides the Parliament with a full update at the earliest opportunity on progress toward implementing the recommendations of the final report, and an opportunity for a debate once Professor Britton's report is published.
- The Scottish Government should take all steps available to ensure that no mesh procedures are carried out in Scotland until such time as the Committee, the Parliament and the public can have confidence in the findings of the review.
30 April 2014 - PE01517: Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices petition lodged with Public Petitions Committee.
3 June 2014 - Committee first consideration of the petition; evidence from the petitioners given.
17 June 2014 - Second consideration of the petition, where evidence is taken from then Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil. He announced the 'moratorium' on the use of mesh, and also announced that an independent review would be established.
2 October 2015 - The Independent Review published an interim report.
6 October 2015 - Former Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison gave evidence to the committee, accepting interim recommendations and conclusions
27 March 2017 - Independent Review published its final report
30 March 2017 - ministerial statement (read the Official Report)
18 May 2017 - Chair of the Independent Review, Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison and the Chief Medical Officer gives evidence to the Committee. Shona Robison announces a 'review of the independent review'.
28 September 2017 - another evidence session held by the Public Petitions Committee, this time with petitioners and one of the expert clinicians on the independent review group
5 December 2017 - Committee debate (read the Official Report)
21 August 2018 - final report of the Committee released