Call for legal action against clinical mesh firms accused of ignoring patient safety

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A SENIOR politician has written to Scotland’s top prosecutor calling for a criminal investigation into clinical mesh firms accused of ignoring safety warnings.

Labour’s Neil Findlay has formally asked Lord Advocate James Wolffe to prosecute firms who, it is claimed, continued using plastic polypropylene resin in implants – despite being told it was not fit for humans.

Memos and safety warnings submitted during American court hearings reveal manufacturers – including those who supplied the Scottish NHS – were warned the plastic mesh should not be used.

Around 1,800 Scottish women a year were given mesh implants for bladder problems in the two decades before its use was suspended in 2014.

Petrochemical giant Chevron Phillips told manufacturers they did not want their business “at any price”, but medical firms used third-party companies to access supplies.

Now Mr Findlay is calling for legal action against mesh firms Bard and Boston Scientific, which supplied up to 1,200 implants a year containing Marlex resin to hospitals.

Mr Findlay said: “I’m asking why, in light of this evidence, criminal proceedings are not forthcoming against these manufacturers.

“It seems ironic companies like Volkswagen face a huge backlash over the emissions scandal when not one criminal charge has been brought in this country against medical manufacturers who endangered the lives, health and wellbeing of patients.”

Mr Findlay believes the true cost to thousands of patients who have been given hernia mesh as well as implants to treat bladder problems and pelvic organ prolapse has yet to emerge and warns we may still be seeing “just the tip of the iceberg”.

NHS Scotland is facing its biggest-ever legal action, with more than 500 women taking their claims for compensation to the Court of Session next year, claiming catastrophic injuries.

Former Health Secretary Alex Neil suspended mesh implant procedures in 2014. Both Bard and Boston Scientific deny wrongdoing and insist patient safety is a priority.