Women’s Health Action became increasingly concerned about problems with surgical mesh after being contacted by a number of consumers, following warnings from the FDA, various women’s organisations internationally and in academic articles. Since 2012 our policy analyst Dr Sandra Hall has been liaising with consumer groups, analysing the latest research and engaging with various government agencies involved in addressing the increasing concerns about mesh.WHA was requested to appear before the Health Select Committee on Wednesday the 3rd of July to present a submission in support of Carmel Berry and Charlotte Korte’s petition on the use of surgical mesh in New Zealand.Julie Radford-Poupard the Director of Women’s Health Action Trust presented the WHA submission and the petition was also supported with evidence from surgeon Dr Hanifa Koya.
Women’s Health Action made six recommendations:
- Medsafe be required to provide evidence of testing and evidence based peer-reviewed research that establishes these products’ safety particularly in urogynaecological and colorectal surgery, or to consider withdrawing mesh products from the market until better evidence about their safety is provided and monitoring systems are in place.
- A register is established of all New Zealand mesh surgeries to monitor the short and long term outcomes of each use of surgical mesh.
- ACC be required to conduct an independent audit of all mesh related claims and the way in which ACC has defined ‘treatment injury” in this context and to report all existing and future claims to Medsafe as adverse events
- The Medical Council and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists be required to ensure the qualifications and experience required of surgeons using mesh are made clear to the public via a specialist registry. In addition they be required to use a specific informed consent process and assessment procedure.
- That HQSC ensure all relevant agencies (ACC, HDC, HQSC and Medsafe) share information about treatment injuries and adverse events.
- Examine Medsafe’s process for approving and classifying medical devices. In particular, whether Medsafe’s approval procedures for medical devices in New Zealand should ever solely rely on overseas evidence.
The health select committee members across all parties showed good support for the petition. Unfortunately, there are only a few health select committee meetings before the election but the committee indicated that they may be some interim recommendations and were confident that it would be considered by the next parliament. WHA hopes the Health Select Committee will put consumer safety first and intervene in the use of surgical mesh, suspending the use of mesh (in particular urogynaecological mesh) until an inquiry is completed.We salute the bravery and hard work of Charlotte Korte and Carmel Berry who successfully introduced the petition and presented a compelling, evidenced petition and submissions.