Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the world, as 1 in 10 people will develop a hernia at some stage in their life.
Many of the repairs are done using mesh, which covers the bulging tissue after it has been pushed back into the body by a surgeon. However, research by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has found that a lot of patients who have had a hernia repair with mesh have suffered complications due to the mesh cutting into tissue or nerves. The complications include chronic pain, infection and perforations, which have left some patients unable to go to work or care for their children.
In a recent article, the BBC reported that “too many types of hernia mesh implants are being used on NHS patients with little to no clinical evidence” that they will help patients.
Around 100,000 of the procedures are performed annually in England and the Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stated that there is a clinical need for the mesh. A Freedom of Information Request by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme found that more than 100 different types of mesh were purchased by the NHS in England and Scotland between 2015 – 2018; however, there is a lot of secrecy surrounding the process in which such a broad range of types of mesh are approved. It was reported that even doctors cannot access clinical data on the procedure.
Professor Carl Heneghan, an expert in medical devices from the University of Oxford, described the tests of the mesh products as “completely inadequate”. He said that “there was no chance that the more than 100 types of mesh used by the NHS were all individually supported by medical evidence”, as there had not been enough randomised trials in this area of medicine.
He has called for an immediate stop to the use of mesh that has no clinical evidence attached of its benefits and states that hospital trusts should only use two or three different types of mesh, where the benefits to the patient are clear.
The director of devices at the MHRA told the BBC that while the benefits and risks of using mesh for hernia repair has been considered in detail, he recognised that the system “does need strengthening” and said new legislation on medical devices would take effect from May 2020. The legislation will increase requirements on manufacturers to ensure that sufficient clinical evidence of the benefits of the mesh is in place before it is used for surgery.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors specialise in clinical negligence claims. If you believe that you or a family member has received inadequate care in relation to a hernia repair, or any other surgical procedure or treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 for a no obligation discussion about concerns.