As recently reported in the BBC, new draft guidelines for the NHS are advising that women who need treatment for urinary incontinence should only be offered mesh surgery as a last resort. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Society of Urogynaecology have confirmed their support of the guidelines, against the backdrop of growing controversy in the use of vaginal mesh procedures.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 women in the UK have had a mesh fitted. The net like fabric can be attached into the wall of the vagina to act as a scaffold to support organs such as the bladder, manage incontinence and prolapse.
The NHS had already been restricting the use of mesh operations, after a large number of patients complained of complications and severe pain afterwards.
In their new guidelines, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say non-surgical options such as pelvic muscle exercises should always be considered first.
However, vaginal mesh operations have not been banned. Instead, doctors are only being advised to proceed with a vaginal mesh if all other viable options have been considered and it is determined to be the best option for that specific patient.
The aim of the new guidelines was highlighted by Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, when he said:
“Where surgical mesh/tape could be an option, there is almost always another intervention recommended in our guideline, which does not involve surgical mesh/tape. If a surgeon cannot provide a full range of choices to the patient, then she should be referred to one who can.”
The new guidelines for England make it clear that any patient considering having the vaginal mesh procedure, should be clearly advised on the possible risks involved, including painful intercourse, infection, vaginal bleeding and bowel problems.
Despite this, campaign groups such as Sling The Mesh, argue that the guidelines do not go far enough and that vaginal mesh should be stopped all together as the health risks are too great for the patients.
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in clinical negligence law. If you believe that you or a family member have been a victim of negligence, due to private or NHS treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 254 7456 to discuss your concerns.