Retired director of public health to carry out mesh implant device review

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Health Secretary Alex Neil has appointed a retired director of public health to carry out a review of the effectiveness of mesh implant surgery in Scotland.

Mr Neil made the announcement during a ministerial statement on 26 June 2014.

Dr Lesley Wilkie will start work next month to establish how many women have suffered complications as a result of receiving mesh implants.

Transvaginal tapes and meshes are used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, with an estimated 1,850 women having the surgery each year in Scotland.

For most patients the implant is effective but a number of women have come forward after experiencing abdominal and pelvic pain, urinary problems, painful intercourse, vaginal scarring and the need for further operations.

Dr Wilkie is due to report early next year.

The health secretary said he had asked for the independent review to be "set up urgently to report on the issues raised, such as complication rates and under-reporting, which have become a growing concern".

All health boards have been asked to suspend the use of implants while the review is underway.

Mr Neil said while many women had no problems afterwards, "there is growing concern about the number of women experiencing complications, linked with under-reporting of adverse effects and a poor understanding of why these complications have occurred".

He told MSPs: "I do not believe we know the real incidence of adverse events in relation to these procedures."

Labour's Neil Findlay said the "belated action" came after a "year of dithering" from the health secretary.

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