Call for public inquiry into mesh scandal

Wednesday 9th October 2019

An MSP is calling for a public inquiry after a Scottish Government bid to bring a specialist US surgeon to Scotland to operate on women with mesh complications fell through.

Neil Findlay claims ministers have ‘broken promises’ to women who are suffering from complications caused by mesh implants.

The Lothian representative said women have been “deliberately misled” and wants the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctors across the UK, to look into claims women who underwent a full mesh removal procedure had in fact been left with lengths of the synthetic tape in their bodies.

The GMC told healthandcare.scot it has a ‘legal duty’ to investigate any concerns it is made aware of but would not confirm whether it was investigating specific cases.

M Findlay said: “For many years I have been convinced the mesh scandal goes way beyond the medical disaster it is and time after time the women who have been the victims in this scandal have been let down by the Scottish Government.

“Jeane Freeman and Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, now have very serious questions to answer about whether they ever really tried to get Dr Veronikis to Scotland and help those hundreds of women who every day are in chronic pain due to mesh.

Used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence often caused by childbirth, mesh implants have led to some women experiencing painful, often permanent complications.

In June health secretary Jeane Freeman pledged to bring a top US doctor who had pioneered full mesh removal to Scotland to carry out procedures and train local surgeons.

But a report this weekend revealed Dr Dionysis Veronikis is withdrawing his offer to travel to Scotland.

The Missouri doctor said he did not believe officials or surgeons ‘ever seriously tried’ to bring him to Scotland.

These claims have been rejected by the Scottish Government, which is asking the American to reconsider.

A spokesperson said: “Scottish Government officials and health boards clinicians undertook discussions with Dr Veronikis in good faith, and the Chief Medical Officer personally spoke with him, to invite him to Scotland.  It is regrettable that, despite everyone’s best efforts, it was difficult to agree a suitable date for this.

“The withdrawal of Dr Veronikis’ offer does not therefore change Scottish clinicians’ plans to share learning and experience with experienced clinicians elsewhere in the world.  As such, clinicians will still travel to the US in November, and have arranged to visit internationally renowned surgeons in the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.

“Should Dr Veronikis be available at this time we understand that the clinicians from Scotland would welcome the opportunity to meet with him when they are in the USA.”