CAMPAIGNERS for women harmed by surgical mesh implants have called on the Scottish Government to crackdown on their use after health bosses in England said the “severity of human suffering” they can cause outweigh the potential benefits.

England's chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said they would be a "treatment of last resort" only.

It follows recommendations by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, who is chairing an independent review into vaginal mesh implants.

Baroness Cumberlege stopped short of calling for an outright ban but urged the Department of Health in England to impose an immediate halt to the use of the devices in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) until certain conditions could be met.

Baroness Cumberlege said: “My team and I are in no doubt that this pause is necessary. We must stop exposing women to the risk of life-changing and life-threatening injuries."

The Department of Health and NHS England has accepted the recommendations.

The implants are commonly used to relieve incontinence and pelvic prolapse, particularly after childbirth.

However, some women have been left in excruciating pain as a result, and in many cases those who suffer side effects cannot have the procedure fully reversed.

In Scotland, campaigners are angry that hundreds of patients continued to be fitted with mesh implants after 2014 despite then-Health Secretary Alex Neil writing to health boards to request that they suspend their use pending an investigation into their safety.

A number of these women went on to develop painful and debilitating complications and are suing for damages.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said there has been a "significant drop" in the use of vaginal mesh implants on NHS Scotland since 2014.

She said: “We welcome the recommendation from Baroness Cumberlege’s review that NHS England should follow Scotland’s lead in restricting the use of mesh for stress urinary incontinence. Scotland’s suspension was instigated in 2014.

“The suspension has led to a significant drop in mesh procedures carried out in Scotland, with procedures being reduced to just 5% of their previous rate in the past six months."

However, Lindsay Bruce, who represents around 200 mesh survivors for Thompsons Solicitors, said the 2014 moratorium in Scotland "had no teeth".

Ms Bruce said: "I have had a number of clients come forward after 2014 having had the procedure because it was widely ignored by NHS authorities. We're still seeing women coming through now with difficulties."

Ms Bruce said that in two health boards alone she was aware of 500 women undergoing vaginal mesh procedures after the 2014 moratorium.

She added: "I think it's a play on words by the Scottish Government to say they welcome England 'following their lead', because their lead is a disappointing one - certainly for the Scottish Mesh Survivors' campaign group that I represent. They are very upset and aggrieved that more women continue to be put in harm's way."

Baroness Julia Cumberlege said surgical mesh should not be used in England for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence until a set of conditions to "mitigate the risks" of injury are met in March 2019.

These include accredited specialist centres for SUI mesh procedures and removals, a register of patients who have had mesh surgery and a national reporting system for complications.

Baroness Cumberlege said: "We strongly believe that mesh must not be used to treat women with stress urinary incontinence until we can manage the risk of complications much more effectively.

"We have not seen evidence on the benefits of mesh that outweighs the severity of human suffering caused by mesh complications."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government added: “Our Chief Medical Officer wrote to all services in 2017 insisting that there must be fully informed consent and women must be given all choices. If following surgery adverse events occur these must be reported."