Labour calls for ban on mesh implants after pensioner’s death

Neil Findlay took Thursday's Evening News into Parliament. Picture: Contributed
Neil Findlay took Thursday's Evening News into Parliament. Picture: Contributed
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Labour has called for an immediate ban on mesh implants across Scotland after a Lothian pensioner became the first person to have an implant officially listed as a contributory cause of death.

Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay also urged the Scottish Government to order an inquiry into the death of Eileen Baxter, 75, from Loanhead, who died on August 27. She had been admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) the previous week with internal bleeding, sickness and diarrhoea.

“We must ensure no further harm is done to women in any part of the country”

Neil Findlay MSP

Her death certificate gave the cause of death as organ failure but also specifically listed the implant as a contributing factor. She had undergone mesh surgery five years ago.

Hundreds of women in Scotland have suffered painful and debilitating complications from being given mesh implants, including infections, bleeding and even paralysis.

The use of the implants was suspended in 2014 by the then Health Secretary Alex Neil, but the following year it was found several health boards were still carrying out the operations. Critics say hundreds have been performed since then.

And an independent review of mesh implants published last year was branded was branded a whitewash by campaigners after it said mesh should not be offered “routinely”.

Mr Findlay brandished a copy of yesterday’s Evening News – and the front page headline “Mesh Implant Killed My Mum” – as he raised Mrs Baxter’s case at First Minister’s Questions.

He asked: “With this new information, will the First Minister now instruct an inquiry into Mrs Baxter’s death, will she instruct health boards not to buy one more box of mesh implants, will she instruct the NHS to clear their shelves of all mesh and will she make sure not another implant is carried out in Scotland using this grotesque and deadly product?”

Ms Sturgeon offered her condolences to Mrs Baxter’s family and friends.

And she said if the Scottish Government was supplied with information about her case it would consider whether any review or inquiry was required into it.

Ms Sturgeon said the use of mesh implants, other than in exceptional circumstances, was still suspended.

And she told parliament: “We’ve seen the number of operations fall dramatically – in the six months to March this year there were 33 operations carried out. That compares to over 1100 in the similar period in 2013/14.”

Mr Findlay said the fact a mesh implant carried out by NHS Scotland was a contributing factor in Mrs Baxter’s death would deeply distress women who had undergone the procedure.

He continued: “In light of Mrs Baxter’s death, it is crucial the Health Secretary investigates this specific case fully to ensure no further harm is done to women in any part of the country.

“This news leaves absolutely no doubt that the minister must also now immediately ban mesh implants from NHS Scotland.

“Mesh implants should be consigned to the history books and those manufacturers who potentially broke the law should be 
prosecuted.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com