Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Another insult, another injury? Watchdogs told to reconsider time bar rule after rejecting mesh complaint

© Andrew Cawleymesh surgery
Elaine Holmes at home in Newton Mearns after trip to the US for surgery

Leading politicians have urged medical watchdogs to relax rules barring complaints from women crippled by mesh surgery.

The General Medical Council (GMC) says too much time has passed for them to consider complaints about surgeons carrying out mesh removal operations more than five years ago.

Elaine Holmes, who has helped lead the campaign for mesh-damaged women, has been told the GMC will not investigate her complaint against a doctor who, she claims, wrongly suggested she was mesh-free after surgery to remove her implant.

Her complaint was rejected without investigation nine years after she was allegedly told by surgeon Andrew Paterson that her mesh had been completely removed. This year, a specialist in America removed 22cm of mesh, and, speaking from his clinic in the US, Dr Dionysios Veronikis described Elaine’s surgery as “extremely difficult”.

He said: “This is the largest amount of mesh I’ve removed from a patient who had supposedly had a previous removal. The amount I removed was surprising, almost as if I was removing a whole implant.”

Elaine, from Newton Mearns, Renfrewshire, said: “The GMC says it will not investigate complaints if you have not seen the doctor for more than five years, which makes this an impossible situation for mesh victims like me.

“I last saw the surgeon who tried to remove my mesh nine years ago. And for all those years, as I became sicker and struggled in more pain, I believed the implant had been removed.”

In a letter to Elaine, the GMC said: “We cannot consider complaints about events that happened more than five years ago unless it is in the greater interest of public and patient safety for us to do so…this rule cannot be appealed or overruled.”

Politicians have questioned that position and said, because of the special circumstances, many mesh-damaged women could not complain until now. They have called on the GMC to ­suspend the time-bar rule to properly investigate.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw, who is Elaine’s MSP, said: “Hundreds of women like Elaine endured a procedure that has blighted their lives and which for years many clinicians denied or, worse, claimed publicly that their suffering was a figment of their imagination. For the GMC to pretend that the complaints arising as a direct consequence of mesh procedures can be treated on a ‘business as usual’ basis is unacceptable and a further ­gratuitous insult. If this requires direct ­intervention to make proper and necessary accountability possible then so be it.”

Former Health Secretary Alex Neil, who first called for the use of mesh implants to be suspended in 2014, making Scotland the first country in the world to react to the global scandal which has seen millions of pounds paid by medical manufacturers to hundreds of thousands of victims, says the GMC must think again.

“The GMC’s five-year rule is nonsensical when it comes to mesh victims. They must be prepared to change it and listen to Elaine and others like her,” he said. “The GMC is protective of doctors’ rights, but it must also be protective of patients’ rights and, as they stand at the moment, its five-year rule is not fit for the 21st Century and we will do everything we can to challenge that.”

Elaine has written to the GMC asking it to reconsider the decision. She said: “If they don’t agree to put this aside, how can other mesh victims ever hope to stand a fair chance of having their complaints looked at?

“I can only hope now that the GMC look again and make an exception in cases like mine.”

Campaigning MSP Neil Findlay said: “Elaine Holmes and fellow campaigner Olive McIlroy are two of the most heroic women I’ve ever met.

“Despite suffering life-changing injuries from mesh implants, both of them have fought tirelessly to ensure others, not just here but across the world, do not suffer what they have had to.

“Elaine’s story highlights exactly why there needs to be a public inquiry into how these women have been treated.”

Elaine’s lawyer, Patrick McGuire, senior partner at Thompsons Solicitors, also believes the five-year rule should be lifted: “There are questions to answer and it seems that the GMC is the appropriate place for those answers to be found.

“Elaine’s story highlights the need for the Scottish Government to recognise the fundamental and potentially irreparable breakdown in trust between the victims of the mesh scandal and the medical profession.”

The General Medical Council last week admitted the five-year rule was discretionary adding: “We are, of course, aware of issues around mesh removal in Scotland and our thoughts are with the patients whose lives have been impacted.

“The five-year rule can be, and is, waived in appropriate cases where we find that there is a risk to patients or public confidence and it is in the public interest to undertake an investigation.”

NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde said: “We do not comment on individual cases but if a patient has concerns about the care or treatment they have received, we would ask that they make a formal complaint so that their concerns can be investigated thoroughly.”