Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
800 women to sue over mesh implants.
More than 800 UK women are taking legal action against the NHS and the makers of vaginal mesh implants.
The implants are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence after childbirth, but some can cut into the vagina - causing severe discomfort.
Some women have been left in permanent pain, unable to walk, work or have sex.
Kate Langley had to give up her business as a childminder because the pain was so intense she could not look after the children. She said that the surgeon who first examined her "could see the mesh tape had cut its way through, like a cheese-wire."
Other women, reporting similar symptoms, have said the perforation was so severe the mesh had injured their partners during sex.
Ms Langley, who described the meshes as "barbaric", said she has had 53 hospital admissions to try to end the pain, but - like many women - the mesh was so near the nerve it could not be fully removed. She has been left in permanent pain by the implants and has nerve damage.
The plastic meshes are made of polypropylene - the same material used to make certain drinks bottles - and manufactured by many different companies.
They are used also to support organs such as the vagina, uterus, bowel, bladder or urethra, which have prolapsed after childbirth.
Between April 2007 and March 2015, more than 92,000 women had vaginal mesh implants in England, according to NHS data from the Hospital Episodes Statistics.
That figure includes a number of different types of implant, including TVT (trans-vaginal tape), TOT (transobturator tape), and SS tape, which is a suprapubic sling.
The data suggests that about one in 11 women has experienced problems. Now, more than 800 women in the UK are taking legal action against the NHS and manufacturers, including US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the biggest makers of mesh implants.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says for the majority of women, vaginal mesh implants are safe and effective.
The meshes are still prescribed on the NHS across the UK, although a recent review in Scotland said they should not be routinely used for pelvic organ prolapse.
Experts believe if the women are successful in their legal case, the NHS payout for compensation could be tens of millions of pounds.
Consultant urogynaecologist, Dr Sohier Elneil, said she sees patients in the UK who have been left facing severe pain and unable to walk.
She said: "The typical type of patient I see is a patient who is incapacitated by chronic severe pain. Often they are on high-dose medication, including opiates. They become so incapacitated that many are either walking by crutches or sitting in wheelchairs. Perhaps more dramatically, they become unable to look after their families."
Currently in the UK, there are around 100 types of vaginal mesh implants. Not one model has been recalled in the UK.
According to one expert, Prof Carl Heneghan, manufacturers have only to provide documents that show their vaginal mesh implant is similar to one already on the market and it is highly likely to be approved for use in the NHS.