All of Scotland’s opposition party leaders have joined to back calls for a new Mesh Charter.
The charter, drawn up by Scottish mesh transplant survivors, calls for a range of measures to help women still struggling with life-changing injuries inflicted by implants.
They include a fund to allow mesh-injured women to choose where they have removal surgery; refunds for those who sought private treatment elsewhere; assurance the use of mesh remains suspended; and transparency over the success rates and training of Scottish surgeons.
The charter calls on Parliament to appointment a Patient Safety Commissioner, and for the full implementation of the recommendations of the landmark Cumberlege Review, which last year detailed how women had been failed by the system and their complaints dismissed by health professionals.
Olive McIlroy, of Scottish Mesh Survivors, said: “Our Mesh Charter will not only ensure future generations are protected from medical scandals like this, it also provides a realistic, workable framework that will allow Scotland’s injured women to access the medical help and resources they need to recover as much of our broken lives as possible.
“We are delighted with the response we’ve had from all the political parties who have always stood by our side throughout our campaign.”
Four opposition party leaders have backed the charter. Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “These women were failed by the mesh procedure and failed by a Scottish Government that for too long turned a blind eye to their pain.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: “These women rightly feel that the charter will prevent future medical scandals and is a fitting legacy of their strong campaign. It may also help to rebuild the trust of women who were so badly let down.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “To make amends for their suffering the next Scottish Government should commit to their charter.”
Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said: “Those survivors are well within their rights to offer constructive suggestions to ensure people in the future don’t go through the same thing, such as outlined in this charter.”
Meanwhile, former health secretary Alex Neil – who in 2014 ordered suspension of mesh implants – hopes to persuade as many fellow SNP MSPs as possible to back the charter. He also urged mesh victims to take legal action to force the Scottish Government to pay for removal treatment in the US.
Campaigners say Scottish surgeons do not have the skills for full mesh removals – but that operations have been successfully carried out in the US by pioneering surgeon Dr Dionysios Veronikis.
The Scottish Government said: “NHS Scotland is inviting tenders to allow appropriately qualified surgeons to perform mesh removal for patients in Scotland, where this surgery is clinically appropriate and where patients wish it to take place outside of the NHS.
“Surgery carried out through this process either in the UK or overseas will of course be free of charge to patients, with necessary travel costs paid for.
“The Scottish Government halted implantation of transvaginal mesh in 2018 and is committed to keeping this halt in place.
“We’re funding a new national specialist centre where surgeons are operating now to remove mesh where this is appropriate.”
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