SCOTLAND'S health boards have been told to "immediately halt" the use of mesh implants altogether in surgery.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made the announcement following the death of Eileen Baxter, 75, in August.

Multiple organ failure was said to have led to Mrs Baxter’s death, with sacrocolopexy mesh repair – an implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse – noted as an underlying cause.

Her son Mark, 52, has called for the products to be completely banned.


Ms Freeman said NHS boards had been told to halt the use of mesh in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.This will continue until a new "restricted use protocol" is drawn up.

Other mesh procedures, such as transabdominal mesh, will be kept under active review and will also be subject to high vigilance procedures.She also praised the bravery of women who have come forward to share their problems following vaginal mesh surgery.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland has established a group to oversee any continued use of the treatment.

And Ms Freeman said the chief medical officer has continued to keep the issueunder review and is listening to the women who have been affected of this.

She said: “I have today asked the Chief Medical Officer to instruct Health Boards to immediately halt the use of transvaginal mesh altogether in cases of both pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, pending the implementation of a new restricted use protocol that will ensure procedures are carried out only in the most exceptional circumstances and subject to a robust process of approval and fully informed consent.

“The instruction to halt is, I believe, a proportionate measure whilst a rigorous, high vigilance restricted use ptotocol for any future practice is developed and put in place.

“The lifting of this halt in use can only be considered once there is confidence that there is sufficient evidence that the protocol can only be triggered in only the most limited of circumstances – informed by any new evidence and the forthcoming NICE guidance which is expected in the spring of next year on the management of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.”

Holyrood’ public petitions committee had called for the use of mesh implants to stop, citing “serious concerns” over an independent review into their use.

That review concluded the procedure – used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) – must not be offered “routinely” to women with pelvic organ prolapse.

The review was announced by the Scottish Government in 2014, with health boards requested to stop the procedure until its conclusion.

It remains under suspension in NHS Scotland except in exceptional circumstances.

The review’s final report was branded a “whitewash” by some women who have suffered painful and debilitating complications from mesh, including campaigners Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy.

Professor Alison Britton has been commissioned to conduct a review of the review, which is due to report later this year.

Mrs Baxter from Loanhead, died in hospital in Edinburgh last month. 

She underwent mesh surgery five years ago. Her death certificate lists this as an antecedent cause of death that caused chronic pelvic inflammation and possible sepsis, leading to anterior rectal perforation and finally the multiple organ failure that ultimately resulted in her death.

And Labour MSP Neil Findlay said that he understood it was the first time mesh had been specifically cited as an underlying cause of death in Scotland.

Hundreds of women in Scotland have suffered painful and debilitating complications from being given mesh implants, including infections, bleeding and even paralysis.

The use of mesh implants in NHS Scotland was suspended four years ago in all but exceptional circumstances.

But the following year it was found several health boards were still carrying out the operations. Critics say hundreds have been performed since then.