19 Jun 2017

'Nothing has been achieved' - anti-mesh campaigners

From Nine To Noon, 9:29 am on 19 June 2017

A group supporting people with complications from the use of surgical mesh says it is alarmed at a lack of action over the problem.


Photo: 123RF

It has been three years since the Health Select Committee began enquiring into the use of surgical mesh, and almost exactly a year since it made seven recommendations.

But anti-mesh campaigners say surgeons are still using it without fully informing patients about risks, and no government agency knows how many surgeons are still using mesh.

Mesh Down Under campaigner Charlotte Korte told Nine To Noon it was unacceptable.

"When you look at where we were in 2014 and where we are now, nothing really much has been achieved. There's no register, there's no coding for mesh. In fact we met with ACC recently, in March or May actually, and there was still no coding for mesh in their system."

She held the National-led government responsible for the lack of action, as one of its MPs chaired the Health Select Committee, she said.

Ms Korte added that 780 decisions have been made about claims, but there was still no broader picture or register of adverse events reported to ACC or other agencies.  

"It's going to give more information about the decisions that have already been made but it's not going to give us a picture of how many people are suffering, and this is what we asked [for] back in 2014. We need to know how many people are suffering with surgical mesh complications."

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists chairman Ian Page said the product was still being used for pelvic organ prolapse.  

But he said it was not being used as much as it once was, in recognition of the product's complications, which could occur as many as six or eight years after its insertion.  

"We've dissuaded people from using it as a primary procedure. You have to remember that prolapse itself is quite distressing, and that's why women come seeking treatment."