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Surgical Mesh Restorative Justice Report Finally Released


12 DECEMBER 2019 10:31am


Surgical mesh is considered to be a permanent medical implant. Most are made of plastic.

Statistics show that these devices can cause substantial physical harm and life-altering and extremely painful complications.

Some of these devices were recently cited in a formal judgement by the Australian Federal Court as ‘not fit for purpose’.


“Someone is lying. And no one is taking responsibility”

“We have been treated like guinea pigs.”

The Ministry Of Health (MOH) has just published a gut-wrenching report. It includes personal statements like these.

Mesh Down Under have now had an opportunity to read this report have decided that it gives a realistic incite and finally exposes the truth.

The report is the response to a MOH supported initiative. It is a Restorative Justice and research project that was aimed to put things right. Mesh Down Under was part of the design team and fully support this process.

The report leads the reader on a candid journey through the Victoria University research and the Restorative Justice process.

For some, reading the report could be a helpful therapeutic experience. It could be a brutal read for those responsible.The report explains what has happened, how and maybe explains why. It includes some agreed actions by ‘responsible parties’ as to how they will provide for the needs of the ‘survivors’.

It talks about obstructive and protracted claims and processes with the Accident Compensation Corporation and a lack of acknowledgement by the Health and Disability Commissioner.

It highlights a culture of ignorance and dismissiveness by some doctors towards patients presenting with complications. It states that this is exacerbated by claims of bullying inside medical fraternity.

The report has made some people terribly sad, yet others are outraged.

It was noted that decision making should be “made on evidence and not emotion”.

There is no mesh implant registry or formal audit to track any evidence of outcomes. The report has not addressed this important point.

‘Responsible parties’ that attended a meeting in Wellington last month have been said to have expressed their horror, frustration, trauma, deep sadness, disappointment and even shame over the indifference, arrogance and lack of compassion that survivors have encountered in our health system.

As the lyrical poem on page three of the report says “Ministry of Health, it is now up to you.”




12 DECEMBER 2019




The use of surgical mesh for medical procedures has come under increasing scrutiny around the world because of high complication rates and serious concerns about patient safety.

Consumer advocacy group Mesh Down Under (MDU) has been lobbying successive Governments since 2012 for practical help and changes in health care services based on patient safety and rights.

The report, written by the Victoria University Restorative Justice research team dedicated to the 7-month long surgical mesh project ( ), was published today by the Ministry of Health.

The researchers analysed feedback provided by both patients and surgeons who contributed anonymously to the report. Several surgeons and other health professionals confirmed that when they tried to raise concerns about a colleague’s competence and ability to perform mesh surgeries ( implantation and removal) they were severely bullied. That has perpetuated a culture of denial and has resulted in the failing of basic patient care and safety standards.

Many patients raised their concerns with their doctor about their injuries and pain, and found that have been injured, they have found their original surgeons unable to fix injuries caused by surgery. Their concerns, injuries and pain were reported as often dismissed and labelled as “being in their head” and that mesh had nothing to do with their symptoms. Patients reported being ‘fobbed off’ and were left feeling disempowered, demoralised and feeling loss and grief with no access to help.

Hundreds of patients detailed obstructive and protracted claims processes with the ACC.

When they tried to raise concerns with the Health and Disability Commissioner regarding the medical treatment that had led to their injuries, the process was also arduous and difficult.

A clear theme that emerged was the lack of accountability for the harm caused to mesh-injured patients – many of whom, in hindsight, had not been given adequate information about the surgery they were having and whether their surgeons were properly qualified to be undertaking procedures in the first instance.

The report encapsulates details and personal stories from hundreds of men and women in New Zealand who have been harmed by the use of surgical mesh in their treatment.

Stories regale poor health information, surgical incompetence, medical negligence and an alarming lack of accountability among health professionals and other agencies which are supposed to put patient rights and safety first.

Mesh Down Under fully supported this Restorative Justice process. It was an extremely significant and important step to take, although it is several years too late for many patients.

We commend the way that this process has been undertaken, finally giving the mesh injured community the opportunity to share their lived experiences of what has been going on behind the scenes.

The continual delays in the progress of the necessary initiatives and changes that had previously been identified as ‘urgently needed’, and were indeed already part of the government’s surgical mesh ‘work programme’, have been reiterated once again within this report. Seeing the same proposals come up yet again, for the specific help that we have been asking for, for many years has confirmed how critical it is for the various agencies to now turn their agreed actions into concrete programmes that deliver urgent and tangible results to the mesh community.

After a summation meeting in Wellington, last month, Mesh Down Under was told that the relevant individual health agencies would be contacted by the Restorative Justice Team to confirm their commitments to action.

While the report identifies a raft of proposals, MDU is calling for the agencies and Ministry of Health to now make their commitments ‘crystal clear’ with achievable timelines.

There is no need for further consultation or review, as the needs have been identified to be in patients’ best interests and safety numerous times, including as part of the Health Select Committee process that began in 2014.

MDU is calling for robust funding. The government needs to support these agencies to make meaningful progress on the proposed programs or ensure change is implemented with urgency.

We are pleased with the few measurable, tangible concrete commitments and timelines identified and we will be watching closely to ensure these promises of action are kept.

There are significant calls for action within the report that are not addressed in the agreed actions. Mesh Down Under is asking the Government:

1. Will implementing the actions identified in the report meet the needs of those already harmed and prevent future harm?

2. Will the Government provide the funding required to implement the actions identified and when?

1. Will New Zealand finally follow overseas action and suspend elective mesh procedures whilst mandating high vigilance scrutiny on non-mesh procedures, until all programmes are fully implemented?

2. How will the government ensure that the full scale and severity and harm caused by surgical mesh is formally acknowledged? Will there be accountability taken? And when will there be an apology given to mesh injured New Zealanders?

We look forward to the Government’s timely response.

Link to report: []

Excerpts from the report:

“Patients emphasized that a meaningful apology must include acknowledgement of the severity of harm.......”The loss of trust they now have in health care providers and institutions cannot be overstated”.

“Restoring trust and confidence in clinicians and the healthcare system was considered a major priority” of this process. But patients identified that “this is dependent on “seeing tangible progress” in rectifying the problems created by surgical mesh.”

“Patients injuries and needs have rarely been acknowledged or validated by those in the health system, leaving them feeling desperate and, in many cases, contemplating suicide”.




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