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Mesh victims: Thanks for meeting us, FM, but we’re not sure you were listening to us

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting with Mesh women at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting with Mesh women at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.

Mesh injured women have voiced disappointment after the First Minister rejected calls to halt implant removal in Scotland until the arrival of a US expert.

Campaigners waited eight years for a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon but say that, despite the First Minister offering assurances over their future care, the current removal service is to continue in the face of mounting concerns.

A number of women who believed they had full mesh removal in Scotland when in fact the removal was only partial were among those raising concerns at a meeting with the FM last week.

She told them she was concerned and, during a case review, would investigate the extent to which complete removal had actually been carried out.

But the women asked for the present removal service to be halted except for the most urgent cases until US surgeon Dr Dionysios Veronikis, who has a track record of safely and fully removing implants, can operate in Scotland

Karen Neil, 52, said: ”I was led to believe that I’d had full removal in Scotland, but when I went to see Dr Veronikis in the US in August, he showed me photographs of what he removed which prove I still had two thirds of the implant left inside me. How can that be acceptable?”

The First Minister said both she and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman are concerned about the situation.

She said: “Whatever the rights or wrongs over what the surgeons are saying, it is clear to me that there has been a complete breakdown and lack of confidence in the service. We must do everything we can to rebuild that.”

She said: “A wide range of issues has been raised with us and I give a personal commitment that systematically, one by one, we will work through them.”

The First Minister assured the women ‘nothing was off the table’ and she was determined to do everything possible to get women the treatment and care they need promising an ‘agreement in principal’ had been reached to get Dr Veronikis here in the spring.

Elaine Holmes of Scottish Mesh Survivors called for a temporary halt to all but emergency mesh removals as a safety measure.

She said: “The service cannot continue routine operations until the promised Complex Case Review Unit is established, surgical training by Dr Veronikis is complete and the commissioned Independent Review looked at the apparent confusion over what is partial mesh removal and what is complete mesh removal.”

On Friday the Scottish Government issued a statement saying: “It is vital that the mesh removal service will continue for those women who need it having suffered from the symptoms of mesh complications. This is subject to their fully informed consent.”

Campaigning MSP Neil Findlay, who has written to the First Minister to express his concerns, said: “I believe a £1million fund should be set up to help support the women and their families, many of whom have been paying for the care and products they now require after suffering life changing injuries, while consideration is given to a government compensation scheme.

“I’ve also asked for a public inquiry into what is recognised as the biggest medical scandal of modern times.”