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Govt wants to hear from mesh injured New Zealanders

Wednesday 5 December 2018

For Immediate Release

NZ Government so concerned about surgical mesh injuries they want to hear from mesh injured New Zealanders so they can work out what has really been happening behind the scenes.

Mesh injured New Zealanders are thrilled that they will finally have the opportunity to share their personal stories about how they have been injured and harmed after undergoing a surgical procedure with a medical implant known simply as mesh.

“The impact on peoples’ lives has been huge” said co-founder Patricia Sullivan this morning “People have lost their jobs, homes, marriages and quality of life all due to the devastating damage to their bodies caused by a mesh implant – it’s not a case of one percent having minor discomfort for several years as was suggested by the Chief Medical officer in a radio interview yesterday– this is hundreds of people living in chronic debilitating pain – and it’s time that the scale of this modern day medical tragedy is recognised.”

Minister Genter released a media statement last week announcing the Government’s intention to provide an opportunity for people who have been injured and harmed after undergoing a surgical mesh procedure to tell their stories.

Genter confirmed, “The first step we are opening a 'registration of interest' to seek input from those harmed about how they would like to do this”.

The intention is to work out what impact this has had on people, what has gone wrong, what needs to be done to fix this awful mess and as the Minister said, to ensure that this “won’t happen again”.

Many overseas countries have suspended transvaginal surgical mesh procedures whilst their investigations are ongoing, surgeons are properly credentialed and mesh specialist centres are created for patients who are suffering. In contrast New Zealand surgeons are still offering these procedures as the first surgical option to patients.

In a recent NZ Listener article Dr Lynsey Haywood was quoted to say “I would use mid-urethral slings as a first-line surgical treatment for many patients and so could my colleagues”.

Mesh Down Under challenges this and says that this statement clearly contradicts the attempts by the Ministry of Health to limit mesh implant surgery because of the harm that has been caused to patients.

In September the Director General of health requested that only surgeons who meet the current Australian credentialing standards be allowed to perform mesh surgery for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence.

This request was only an interim measure while New Zealand credentialing guidelines are created. This resulted in 13 District Health Boards ceasing to offer mesh treatments.

The seven DHBs (who were already doing the majority of these mesh operations) have been allowed to continue. Only a handful of New Zealand private hospitals have responded to the interim restrictions of the Australian credential standards.

Mesh Down Under’s Charlotte Korte is a member of the New Zealand Mesh Credentialing Committee. “We have not yet established new credentialing guidelines, in fact this is a long way off” she said “There has been only one meeting so far”.

“The interim standards that surgeons are required to meet are open to various interpretations. For example any surgeon in New Zealand can call themselves an uro-gynecologicalist, but internationally this is considered a sub speciality title that requires further years of training.”

In parliament last week in an attempt to show that ‘significant progress’ had been made Minister Julie Anne Genter deflected questions about the proposed surgical mesh register (designed to record all mesh implants and the clinical follow-up) by instead discussing the withdrawal of some pelvic organ prolapse (POP) devices by Medsafe in January this year.

“The RANZCOG guideline that was published in November 2016 recommended that surgeons stop using transvaginal mesh for POP and so the January action made little difference” said Charlotte Korte. “It is the mesh devices that remain on the market that are creating such concern and controversy and we would like the government, including the Ministry of Health to stop using this as a justification that this is ‘significant action’ because this has not actually addressed the surgical mesh issue and recent ACC statistics support this”.

In regard to mesh treatment for SUI, Minister Genter stated that ‘rigorous informed consent processes are being created’. Korte insisted “This is categorically not true- yes, the Working Group is nearing completion of a Patient Information Document but it will only be given to women who have already been recommended to have mesh surgery. It’s not a document intended to be supplied by a GP to a patient reporting symptoms of SUI. Care pathways have not yet been initiated; we have not heard anything more about the mesh specialist centres which were promised with wrap around services for patients that are already harmed.”

“Mesh Down Under is extremely pleased that finally patients will have the opportunity to talk about their personal mesh journey and the true and full impact that this surgery has had on their lives. We strongly encourage every patient that has been affected to register their interest to have their story heard.

We sincerely hope that after the review is completed the Ministry will clearly define exactly what they will do to ensure injured patients are supported and that ‘this never happens again”.

A link to the Registration of Interest is here:




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