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Mesh Implant ReviewA retired public health director will lead an urgent review into how many women have suffered serious side effects after undergoing mesh implant surgery.
Health Secretary Alex Neil announced Dr Lesley Wilkie would head up the independent review.
He also confirmed to MSPs that all health boards in Scotland have now been contacted to ask them to suspend the routine use of the implants.
For most patients the implant is effective but a number of women have come forward after experiencing abdominal and pelvic pain, urinary problems, painful intercourse, vaginal scarring and the need for further operations.
Mr Neil said while many women had no problems afterwards, “there is growing concern about the number of women experiencing complications, linked with under-reporting of adverse effects and a poor understanding of why these complications have occurred”.
He told MSPs: “I do not believe we know the real incidence of adverse events in relation to these procedures.”
He said he had asked for the independent review to be “set up urgently to report on the issues raised, such as complication rates and under-reporting, which have become a growing concern”.
Labour’s Neil Findlay said the “belated action” came after a “year of dithering” from the Health Secretary.
Mr Findlay said: “Almost a year ago, in rejecting a call for the suspension of mesh, the cabinet secretary claimed he had no power to act and he could not act because he feared litigation by the manufacturers.
“He also claimed at that time the number of women who had experienced problems with mesh was very low. So, how many women have had complications?”
Mr Neil said the review would “establish the facts and report at the beginning of 2015, taking account of the European Commission study of these devices due in January”.
He stated: “The review will look at synthetic implant procedures for both stress urinary incontinence and for pelvic organ prolapse
“I can announce today that Dr Leslie Wilkie, a retired director of public health, will lead the independent review. The review will start next month and report early in 2015.
“The key priority for this review is to establish the facts concerning the number of women experiencing complications and the issue of under-reporting for adverse effects.”
He paid tribute to the women who had raised the issue with politicians, saying he had “deeply troubled” when he met them and “heard of the horrendous complications they have suffered, in some cases altering their lives forever”.
He said Dr Wilkie would consult these women prior to establishing the final remit for the review.
“I gave an undertaking that the women would be consulted and I intend to keep to that undertaking,” Mr Neil said.