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Halt on use of mesh implants in surgery

SCOTTISH health boards have been asked to suspend the use of mesh implants after a campaign by women who have suffered serious side effects after having the material used in procedures.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said an independent review will be set up urgently to report on issues related to mesh procedures, including complication rates and ­u­­nder-reporting of "adverse events".

Campaigners described the suspension and review as "welcome and unexpected".

Transvaginal tapes and meshes are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

For most patients the implant is effective, but a number of women have come forward after experiencing problems including abdominal and pelvic pain, urinary problems, painful intercourse, scarring and the need for further operations.

At a meeting of Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee, Mr Neil said he has now asked the Acting Chief Medical Officer to write to all health boards urging them to suspend the use of mesh until evidence from both the Scottish Government's ­independent review and an EU study are available next year.

Mesh campaigner Olive McIlroy, 57, one of two petitioners who brought the issue to the committee, said afterwards: "It was the decision we were hoping for, and we're very glad the minister made it, but he could have made it a year ago."

During the meeting, Mr Neil said: "No-one should have to experience the level of suffering that some of these women have had."

Mr Neil said 1,850 women have mesh implant surgery in Scotland each year, with official complication rates of between 1% and 6%, but problems were probably "substantially under- estimated" due to under-reporting of "adverse events".

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