The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE), a health watchdog, has said that controversial vaginal mesh implants can be offered again on the NHS in England once certain conditions are met.
The use of vaginal mesh implants was stopped in 2018 following growing pressure over safety concerns. Some patients who have had the mesh implants to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence have been left unable to work, have sex or even walk.
Before the implants reintroduction, NICE has recommended that surgery must be performed by specialist surgeons at specialist centres. Following which, the outcome of all operations should be recorded on a national database to aid future decision making.
Whilst the NHS is not obliged to act upon these guidelines and currently the halt on vaginal mesh surgery remains in place, NHS services are expected to take into account NICE recommendations.
The new guidelines state that each patient would receive all the latest evidence on available treatments and the vaginal mesh implants would be used only after non-surgical options, such as pelvic floor training and lifestyle changes, have failed. However, an independent review due to publish its findings later this year recommended that mesh implants should not be used to treat urinary incontinence “now and for the foreseeable future”.
Campaign group Sling the Mesh has criticised the new NICE guidelines stating that they are no different from previous guidelines published in 2003. The group reports that a recent survey that they conducted showed that one in 20 women have attempted suicide and more than half have regular suicidal thoughts because of chronic pain, loss of sex life, constant infections and autoimmune disease as a result of the mesh implant.
If you would like further advice in connection with the matters raised in this article then please contact Mr McCusker on 0800 731 2852 or 02476 229 582.