US mesh expert to be brought to Scotland

Complex case review unit being set up as Health Secretary seeks approval from medical regulator

Wednesday 19th June 2019

A top US expert will be brought to Scotland to carry out and train Scottish doctors in mesh removal procedures, the Health Secretary has announced.

It follows pressure from campaigners who claimed previous commitments to learn from best practice from abroad fell short.

They had called on Jeane Freeman to accept the offer of US surgeon, Dr Dionysios K. Veronikis, to come to Scotland to share his expertise in full mesh removal, which campaigners say is superior to treatment on offer in the UK.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, one of several MSPs pushing for the move, said the news was "fantastic".

He said: “Mesh implants have been suspended in Scotland already, and that’s welcome progress in itself for the potentially thousands of women who would otherwise have been subjected to this.

“Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the women who’ve already suffered.

“It means not only can they access treatment here to have these removed, but that other medical professionals can be trained in how to do this.

“It’s taken far too long to reach this stage, but there will be relief all round that we finally have.”

It is estimated there could be 1,000 women in Scotland who need the implants, which can lead to permanent and debilitating complications, removed.

A working group comprising Scottish Government and NHS experts had been set up to examine how mesh removal in Scotland could be improved.

Earlier this month Ms Freeman said an expert group of surgeons, a specialist nurse and a physiotherapist would visit international clinicians to ‘review, compare and contrast their practices with those currently in place in Scotland.’

But newspaper reports claimed the group had originally been set up with a remit to reintroduce mesh – something the Scottish Government denies.

In a parliamentary response today, Ms Freeman says the Scottish Government has contacted Dr Veronikis to ‘obtain his agreement for specialists from Scotland to visit him and observe his expertise in his own clinic in the USA.’

Meanwhile, she is seeking approval from the Westminster health secretary and the General Medical Council to bring the St Louis-based doctor to Scotland ‘for a period of time to provide treatment, expert advice, and training.’

A complex case review unit is also being set up to improve the care pathways offered to patients with mesh complications.