Women forced to resort to private treatment to remove vaginal mesh implants could have their money refunded, if new laws are passed by Holyrood.
MSPs who have campaigned for those affected hailed the announcement from outgoing Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
Subject to the outcome of the Holyrood election in May, Ms Freeman said new legislation could be introduced to allow the Scottish Government to meet the travel, medical expenses and other reasonable associated costs for those who had their mesh removed privately.
Legislation on the issue is needed as the law does not currently allow for such payments to be made from public funds.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay, one of those who has raised the plight of the women in Holyrood, hailed it as a “major breakthrough”.
He tweeted: “On my last day in Parliament I am delighted that campaigning has paid off and mesh injured women will be compensated for the cost of surgery in the US.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw also welcomed the announcement as a “major success for the women affected”.
He said he is “proud” to have worked with Mr Findlay and the SNP’s Alex Neil to try to help the women.
The Scottish Government stepped in to halt the use of transvaginal mesh implants by the NHS in 2018, after some women complained of painful and debilitating side effects from the surgery.
Ms Freeman insisted the Government is committed to keeping the ban in place, as she said ministers “absolutely recognise the serious distress which may have led to women using their own funds to pay for private surgery”.
She added: “As the Scottish Government does not currently have the legal power to refund these past costs, we propose introducing legislation in the next Parliament, subject to the outcome of the election.”
Ms Freeman, who is not standing for re-election, added the NHS is inviting tenders that would allow mesh removal operations to be carried out outside of the health service in future for “women who would prefer that option”.
The Health Secretary explained: “We have decided to make these exceptional arrangements for surgery because of the trauma women have suffered as a result of mesh complications.
“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.”
It comes after an announcement last July that a specialist service to perform mesh removal operations was being set up as part of NHS Scotland – with the Scottish Government committing more than £1.3 million to support the new Complex Mesh Removal Surgical Service.
Ms Freeman said: “Women who have suffered painful side effects from vaginal mesh implants must get the best possible care and we are also funding a new NHS Scotland national specialist centre where surgeons are operating now to remove mesh where this is appropriate.
“The development of the centre, and the way it operates, continues to be the subject of detailed consultation with affected women.”
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