US mesh expert asked to reinstate trip to Scotland

Image caption,
The mesh implants are used to ease incontinence and to support organs

The Scottish government has said it hopes an expert mesh surgeon will reinstate his offer to visit Scotland to help patients with the implants.

Dr Dionysios Veronikis said he had withdrawn his offer of help as he did not have time for games and "interminable discussions".

Campaigners asked for him to come from the US after he successfully removed mesh from a number of Scottish women.

Hundreds of women say mesh implants have ruined their lives.

Excerpts of a letter Dr Veronikis wrote to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman were published in the Sunday Post.

The obstetrician-gynaecologist, from St Louis, has developed techniques for the full removal of vaginal mesh implants.

He said he offered to come to Scotland for a month to operate on women and train surgeons "in good faith".

"[I] do not have the time to play games... After months of discussions I no longer believe officials... ever seriously tried to bring me to Scotland," he said.

He continued: "I do not have time for interminable discussions and feel I must now withdraw my offer", adding: "with great regret, and frustration" he has cancelled his trip.

Time to 'right wrongs'

Image caption,
Lorna Farrell had her mesh implant removed six weeks ago

Eleven years ago, mesh campaigner Lorna Farrell was given a mesh implant which left her in pain.

Some of the mesh hardened inside of her and moved, perforating her bladder.

She had a partial removal in Scotland, which led to "terrible" pain - worse than it was before the procedure.

Six weeks ago, she went to America and Dr Veronikis removed the rest of her mesh implant.

Since then, she has seen "a lot of improvements" in her condition.

She has been campaigning for him to come here to help other women, and said she was "gutted" that he had withdrawn his offer to come to Scotland.

"Whatever has delayed this, whatever decisions you've made that have stopped you taking this expert up on his offer - bin them, reconsider.

"Ask him please to come here and to start righting some wrongs that the women in Scotland absolutely deserve."

The Scottish government said it rejects any assertion that officials engaged in any "deliberate delays".

A spokeswoman said: "The health secretary wrote to Dr Veronikis this week to express her gratitude for his offer and her hope that he would be able to reconsider his position".

She added that discussions were undertaken in good faith, and that the chief medical officer had personally invited Dr Veronikis to Scotland.

The withdrawal of Dr Veronikis' offer does not change Scottish clinicians' plans to "share learning and experience with experienced clinicians elsewhere in the world".

Clinicians will still travel to the US in November, and have arranged to visit internationally renowned surgeons in the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, the spokeswoman added.

Should Dr Veronikis be available, clinicians from Scotland would "welcome the opportunity to meet with him when they are in the USA".

What are mesh implants?

  • The mesh, usually made from synthetic polypropylene, is intended to repair damaged or weakened tissue
  • Over 20 years, more than 100,000 women across the UK had transvaginal mesh implants, which are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), often after childbirth
  • While the vast majority suffer no side-effects, the use of mesh in Scotland was suspended except in "exceptional circumstances" in 2014 after it emerged some women suffered painful side-effects
  • However, the procedure been used hundreds of times since
  • Once the mesh is implanted, it is very difficult to remove

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