Harrowing details of the trauma suffered by women with vaginal mesh implants were heard in the Commons, as one MP asked ministers why if cars could be recalled when a fault was found, mesh could not be banned.
In a two-and-a-half-hour debate, MPs relayed numerous stories to the Government benches of women left debilitated by the procedure.
Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South, said a number of Fylde coast women have been affected, and quoted one as saying: “I had this operation carried out – it was only effective for a few months and had failed, leaving me with constant discomfort.
“The operation itself was a long one and I have so far managed to put up with this discomfort as I really don’t want further surgery.”
Mr Marsden questioned whether some victims ‘might be going under the radar’ as senior Conservative MP Julian Lewis said estimates of the number of women ‘seriously damaged’ by the procedure ranged from 1,000 to at least 15,000.
Mesh treatment has been offered in cases of pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but sparked controversy after many women said they felt discomfort and had difficulty walking or having sex after undergoing the surgery.
And Mr Lewis told MPs: “I have a page here which lists some 50 different symptoms related to implant illness and foreign body giant cell reaction.
“I venture to suggest that if this ghastly catalogue of things that could go wrong had been shown in advance to those 100,000-plus women who have had a mesh implant, more than 90 per cent of them at least would have turned it down.”
He said another constituent said she could ‘no longer carry out basic tasks at home or do things with my children due to the pain’, nor go to work, adding: “The mesh implant I have had, has and is continuing to destroy my life.”
Doctors are ‘voting with their feet’ about the use of mesh, ministers were told, amid claims it is the ‘biggest medical scandal’ since thalidomide.
Labour’s Emma Hardy led calls to suspend its use following reports of complications, as campaigners from the group Sling the Mesh – wearing red and while polka dot bandannas – looked on from the public gallery.
Labour’s Owen Smith, a former shadow cabinet minister, said there had been almost one million outpatient appointments linked to vaginal mesh, with costs to the NHS somewhere in the region of £250 million.
A so-called ‘failure rate’ of between one per cent to three per cent was not acceptable anyway, Mr Smith said, adding that the numbers ‘are far greater than that’.