Local MSP Neil Findlay has raised concerns about the strength of the Scottish Government’s suspension of mesh implants.

Mesh implants are medical devices used by doctors to treat a number of conditions such as incontinence and other issues that can occur after childbirth.

In a letter to SNP Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman, Mr Findlay said there were “substantial differences” between the suspension in Scotland and England.

Some women have reported severe and constant abdominal and vaginal pain following the surgery, with others experiencing infections, bleeding and even paralysis. Many have said their original incontinence symptoms have not been improved by the surgery.

An independent review of the use of mesh has been beset by scandal with survivors and clinicians resigning from the review group claiming the report has been compromised and ‘whitewashed’. Former SNP Health Secretary Alex Neil branded the final review report as “totally unacceptable”.

In his letter to SNP Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman, Mr Findlay said: 

I write to you following the mesh suspension announced by NHS England. 

It appears there are substantial differences with the suspension there and what is in place in Scotland with greater safeguards in place south of the border.

In England, the government appears to have used constitutional powers and, therefore, individual hospitals cannot maintain autonomy over whether or not to suspend the use of mesh. It is a far tighter suspension than the one in place by NHS Scotland. 

In addition, England’s suspension has clearly identified the exceptional circumstances under which a mesh procedure can go ahead. This is called the ‘High Vigilant Scrutiny programme’. Again far tighter and safer than the one in Scotland. 

I would therefore urge you to look at the detail of what has been imposed in England and follow suit to ensure the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland are doing all they can to protect women here. 

We had the opportunity to lead the world on mesh and blew it with the flawed review – let’s not allow us to fall even further behind. 

I hope you will take action now on this very important issue or many more Scottish women could become victims of this global health scandal. 

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