Mesh campaigners set for showdown talks with health secretary Shona Robison

Health Secretary Shona Robison (Ken Jack/Corbis via Getty Images)
Health Secretary Shona Robison (Ken Jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

MESH campaigners will have showdown talks with Scottish health secretary Shona Robison this week, after resigning from a safety review into the controversial surgery.

Olive McIlroy, 60, and Elaine Holmes, 52, are “disgusted” at Ms Robinson’s defence of a “whitewash” report into a practice they say has ignored vital evidence.

The health secretary came under fire in the Scottish Parliament over the issue after The Sunday Post revealed the resignations last weekend.

Ms Robison’s response was that the issue was “complex”. She defended the report, which “favours” mesh, and said a helpline for sufferers had been set up.

But Elaine, from Newton Mearns, and Olive, from Renfrew, believe Ms Robison is adding insult to injury.

The lives of more than 400 women have been affected and NHS Scotland is facing the country’s biggest negligence legal claim. Elaine said: “We need more than a helpline manned for four hours a week by a single nurse.”

Olive and Elaine refused to sign off on the report, to be published next month after a three-year investigation.

The women, who suffered life-changing injuries for the treatment for bladder problems, are to meet Ms Robison on Thursday to express how “sickened” they are.

They have allies in Conservative and Labour MSPs Jackson Carlaw and Neil Findlay, chair of the health committee.

They claim “astonished” experts who gave evidence have expressed concerns over the report, the contents of which contradict the findings of an interim report.

Mr Carlaw said: “I have been contacted by others in the review who are astonished at the wholesale removal of certain chapters.”

“Only weeks ago, the First Minister gave me an assurance there would be no whitewash.

“The Government has to confront the realities of the mesh scandal, rather than sanctioning a report with missing key evidence because of the vested interests of some clinicians.

“And because some health boards would rather continue with a dangerous procedure rather than a more expensive but safer one.”

Neil Findlay has asked Ms Robison to answer concerns that the review has been compromised.

He said: “Why would an independent review fail to consider all the up-to-date information, irrespective of whether it is pro or anti-mesh?”

The campaigners claim EU reclassification of all surgical mesh, including hernia mesh, to “high risk” has been ignored, along with the reclassification in the US of the metal hooks used to anchor the implants.

Campaigners are also concerned the report ignores three criminal investigations by the US Government and warnings over the alleged use of Chinese counterfeit mesh.

Elaine and Olive now fear more women will suffer injuries.

Olive said: “We believe the suspension on implants, ordered three years ago by then health secretary Alex Neil, will be lifted and more women will end up in wheelchairs.”

Lawyer George Clark of Quantum Claims warned the NHS would have no defence if it ignored evidence and safety warnings and more patients were injured.

Ms Robison said: “What is important is that we make sure that whatever guidance is given, it is based on the most robust evidence.”