Open letter from Christine Rankin regarding surgical mesh
Associate Health Minister James Shaw’s delay in the announcement of a Surgical Mesh Suspension in NZ is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
Once again, the government’s
indecisive action on the Surgical Mesh issue has left the
door open to further surgical mesh injuries and more lives
will be devastated as a result.
The huge promises made by Jacinda Ardern, Julie Anne Genter, David Clark and Winston Peters prior to the election to properly address the surgical mesh issue, are quite different to their lack-lustre response since coming into government. It seems that protecting New Zealanders from harm is not as high a priority as they claimed!
The fact of the matter is that overseas countries have suspended surgical mesh for good reason! The UK, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands have suspended surgical mesh procedures as a preventative measure.
Once again, other countries have put patient safety first because of the severity of mesh complications. They have ensured that until the necessary safeguards have been established, and are up and running, no surgical mesh will be used in transvaginal stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ procedures.
But, in stark contrast, New Zealand are still having discussions about how to best deal with the problem! Although there has been some progress made since the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield was brought in to oversee the surgical mesh issue, there has been nothing but silence from the New Zealand Government in response to the UK mesh suspension.
In fact, it has been so quiet that very few even know the Government are considering it!
Mesh Down Under issued a press release to let the public know they had requested the same suspension, that this was now on the table and being considered by the government.
This was certainly the first I had heard of it, which I find disappointing considering that this government prides themselves on transparency.
Contrary to popular belief, mesh is NOT banned in NZ! This misconception appears to have arisen from the announcements made late last year after some products used in pelvic organ prolapse were removed from the market.
This followed a decision by the TGA to limit the supply of those particular devices because they were considered unsafe.
The MOH and relevant agencies are only at the very beginning stages of setting up care pathways and creating committees to talk about the credentialing of surgeons; these have not been established yet.
Credentialing is needed to ensure that the surgeons are actually qualified to implant these devices in the first place. It is also crucial to ensure that surgeons who are removing mesh have the skills to do so.
Why was this not done before any mesh was ever used?
In the face of the significant weight of international evidence, which confirms these products have an unacceptable rate of adverse events, and that these complications are not only severe but life-changing, this seems like far too little - too late.
No one should be implanted with surgical mesh until all the necessary changes have been made, and approved safety measures have been established with support structures in place, so ALL patients can access the help they need.
Why are we still deliberating?
When will the government step up and do the right thing and put patient safety first?
I am asking you to put a suspension in place now before further damage is caused.
The UK government accepted the recommendation of a review into the safety of the medical devices on July 10 2018, which called for a pause in the use of vaginal mesh implants until a set of conditions is met. Baroness Cumberlege who lead the review concluded:
"My team and I are in no doubt that this pause is necessary”.
"We must stop exposing women to the risk of life-changing and life-threatening injuries”.
"We must have measures in place to mitigate the risk, and those are sadly lacking at the moment."
"We strongly believe that mesh must not be used to treat women with stress urinary incontinence until we can manage the risk of complications much more effectively," she said.
"We have not seen evidence on the benefits of mesh that outweighs the severity of human suffering caused by mesh complications”.
Mesh Down Under contacted the Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter and James Shaw on July 11th to request the same suspension. They are yet to respond. Now is the time for action!
I fully support a suspension and am writing to ask you to not to delay this decision any longer. Jacinda we need you to step in and take charge of the situation.
Surgical mesh used in stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ procedures must be suspended with immediate effect. Patient safety must come first!!
If the UK, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Channel Islands can do it and have done it - so should we.
THE SURGICAL MESH SITUATION IN
• FACT: SURGICAL MESH HAS NOT BEEN BANNED IN NZ. THE PUBLIC HAVE BEEN MISLED. IT IS STILL BEING USED!!
• FACT: SOME SURGEONS ARE STILL TELLING PATIENTS “IT IS NOT THE SAME MESH IN THE MEDIA WHICH IS CAUSING PROBLEMS”.
• FACT: MANY MESH-INJURED PATIENTS ARE STILL BEING TOLD THEIR PROBLEMS ARE “ALL IN YOUR HEAD”.
• FACT: MANY PATIENTS ARE STILL UNABLE TO GET THE HELP THEY NEED WHEN THINGS GO WRONG.
• FACT: MANY PATIENTS HAVE NO ACC COVER FOR THEIR MESH INJURIES.
• FACT: WE HAVE MESH SPECIALISTS IN NZ WHO HAVE IMPLANTED SURGICAL TAPES INCORRECTLY (IN THE WRONG PLACE). THE QUESTION IS WHY?
• FACT: WE HAVE MESH SPECIALISTS IN NZ WHO HAVE PUT MESH IN TOO TIGHT (OVER-CORRECTED THE TAPE), WHICH CAUSES MAJOR PROBLEMS. IS THIS GOOD ENOUGH?
• FACT: SOME SURGEONS IN NZ HAVE LIED ABOUT THEIR SURGICAL MESH SKILLS TO PATIENTS AND CONTINUE TO DO SO.
• FACT: SOME SURGEONS HAVE MISLED PATIENTS ABOUT THE RISKS OF SURGICAL MESH.
• FACT: PATIENTS HAVE BEEN TOLD BY SURGEONS THAT ALL OF THEIR MESH HAS BEEN FULLY REMOVED WHEN THIS HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE.
• FACT: SO MANY LIVES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY SURGICAL MESH AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE DESTROYED UNLESS SOMETHING IS DONE NOW!!
• FACT: THERE HAVE BEEN SUICIDES IN NZ BECAUSE PATIENTS CANNOT CONTINUE TO LIVE WITH UNBEARABLE MESH PAIN.
• FACT: WHY, WHEN SO MANY OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE TAKEN PREVENTATIVE MEASURES BECAUSE OF THE SEVERITY OF MESH COMPLICATIONS, HAVE WE TAKEN NO ACTION?
• FACT: THE NZ GOVT MADE MANY PROMISES BEFORE THE ELECTION - TIME TO ACTUALLY LIVE UP TO THOSE PROMISES AND SUSPEND PELVIC SURGICAL MESH BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!