Vaginal mesh is no longer used at King’s and Guy’s for prolapse and incontinence, the trusts have confirmed, as campaigners push for a full ban on the procedure.
Used to treat incontinence or prolapse – often caused by childbirth -vaginal mesh implants have been shown to be responsible for a series of cases where women were left with extreme, chronic pain.
After the sheer number of women affected and the severity of their symptoms came to light, a ban on the products was put in place last year.
But last month, new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines were published, advising mesh is only used after all non-surgical options have been exhausted, and to women who understand the risks.
Critics say the new wording does not go far enough – and could mean more women have mesh surgery in future with its risks of pain and other complications.
A campaign group with more than 7,000 members, called Sling the Mesh, says its representatives have written to every NHS trust warning them that hospitals continue to use mesh could face legal action.
The group hoped the guidelines would take a much stronger stance and put a permanent stop on the procedure. It has also called on the government to set up a register of every woman operated on in the last 20 years.
In response to a request by the News, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust confirmed: “We do not use synthetic mesh for prolapse or incontinence. We do provide a service for removing vaginal mesh when it is necessary to do so.”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust replied along similar lines, explaining: “We currently do not use vaginal mesh for either incontinence or prolapse, however, we are able to offer alternative surgical solutions. We do offer a mesh removing service where appropriate.”
Although both Southwark’s hospitals continue to provide mesh removal, last Thursday Sling the Mesh staged a demonstration outside University College Hospital in protest of the trust’s announcement it was suspending its mesh removal service.
June Faircloth, who coordinated the rally in London said there could be many more cases as women like her, who had the procedure in private hospitals, will not show up in public statistics.
“Every day on the support page new members join who’ve been suffering for months or years but are told by medics they are a mystery, problems are blamed on other health issues or women are sent to psychiatrists,” she said.
“These women have mesh implant-related illnesses like severe pain, UTIs, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, leg tremors, loss of sex life.
“It is only when women see the story in the media that they have a penny drop moment.
“I had my operation privately so even in a 20 year audit my story won’t be counted and I am an unknown statistic.”