Health watchdog NICE has recommended that vaginal mesh implants be offered again on the NHS in England once certain conditions are met.

This is a highly controversial recommendation given that there is currently a ban on vaginal mesh surgery across the UK which has been in place since last year due to increasing safety concerns.

Some women have been left unable to walk, work or have sex after having the implants which are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Many of our clients who have had vaginal mesh implants have suffered devastating injuries and chronic pain which has impacted on their quality of life. 

A survey by campaign group Sling the Mesh found many similar stories of women who have been harmed by vaginal mesh implants. Their survey found “one in 20 women have attempted suicide and more than half have regular suicidal thoughts because of the chronic pain, loss of sex life, constant infections and autoimmune disease”. 

NICE have said that vaginal mesh operations must be performed by specialist surgeons at specialist centres before their reintroduction. Whilst the NHS is not compelled to act on NICE guidelines, they are expected to take these guidelines into account when planning and delivering care. 

An independent review led by Baroness Julia Cumberlege is due to publish its findings later this year. Her team have set conditions that would need to be met before the vaginal mesh ban could be lifted. However, these conditions have not yet been met. BBC News has quoted Baroness Cumberlege as saying “This means that, now and for the foreseeable future, mesh should not be used to treat stress urinary incontinence, either in the NHS or the independent sector”.

Labour MP Owen Smith (Chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on surgical mesh) has strongly criticised the latest NICE guidelines. The Guardian newspaper has quoted him stating that he is “deeply disappointed that the updated guidelines appear to disregard mesh-injured women’s experiences”. 

Our team have seen an increase in the number of cases relating to vaginal mesh implants.  If you are concerned about a vaginal mesh implant and would like to have a free, informal discussion about how we may be able to help you, please get in touch with me on 0845 077 9602, alicia.gill@freeths.co.uk or contact Jane Williams, Partner on 0845 272 5724 or jane.williams@freeths.co.uk