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Mesh victims say ministers are “still not listening” as national removal service announced

© Andrew CawleyCampaigner Elaine Holmes
Campaigner Elaine Holmes

Mesh-injured women said the government is “still not listening” after ministers announced a national removal service last week.

Campaigners have, for years, claimed Scottish surgeons need to be better trained in removal techniques after a series of patients were wrongly told implants had been fully removed.

Many have been forced to travel to America to have mesh removed by world-leading surgeon Dionysios Veronikis, who agreed to come to Scotland to operate and train surgeons. But, despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon personally pledging to make that happen, he has withdrawn his offer, blaming Scots surgeons and officials for needless delays.

Last week, ministers announced £1.3 million will be spent on a removal service in NHS Greater Glasgow, one of the two Scots health boards that carried out hundreds of implant procedures after the use of mesh was supposedly suspended in 2014.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We have listened to the women affected by mesh complications and this new service reflects their wish to have a clear, single national pathway for treatment.” She was speaking days after the lanndmark Cumberlege Report vindicated mesh campaigners who claimed doctors and officials have ignored and patronised them for almost a decade.

Elaine Holmes of Scottish Mesh Survivors said: “This is an astonishing statement when, in fact, they have never listened and, despite everything, they’re still not listening! I suspect women would rather continue suffering than be treated by the same surgeons who ruined their lives with these implants. We want Dr Dionysius Veronikis here to train our surgeons.”

Elaine, from Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire, spent £20,000 of life savings to travel to the US so Dr Veronikis could remove her mesh after being told by Scottish surgeons she had had a full removal. Dr Veronikis removed 22cm, revealing only a fraction was removed in Scotland.

Elaine said: “Women have been complaining to the General Medical Council after being told they’d had a full removal in Scotland which was anything but, myself included.”

The government’s own mesh expert Dr Wael Agur said: “If there is £1.3m available for removals, will patients get the option of seeking treatment elsewhere by surgeons they trust?

“Patients must not only be involved in designing the service, they must have confidence surgeons can remove all mesh devices, not just a few.”