Mesh victims who travelled to US for government funded treatment 'denied NHS care'

Women who travel to the US under a Scottish Government scheme to fix a medical scandal face a postcode lottery of follow up treatment after returning home.

Victims of mesh claim they’re being denied treatment by their health boards - despite the issue being caused in Scotland.

The Sunday Mail asked each of Scotland’s 14 health boards if they would continue to see a patient for issues relating to the plastic-style medical inserts after undergoing surgery in the US or England.

Only nine have so far said they would.

Louise Thompson travelled to the US in August under the scheme but claims her health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have refused to treat her further as she had chosen to have the treatment abroad.

The 43-year-old mum-of-two, from Port Glasgow. said: “Mesh has destroyed my whole life.

“They sent me to America because of a mesh they put in on the NHS here which they told me no no-one here in Scotland could remove.

“I knew I’d need reparative surgery on return as under the contract the US surgeon can remove the device but can’t repair the issue of why it was put in the first place.

“But I was told they wouldn’t treat me here as I had chosen to go to America for treatment. I’d opted to leave Scotland and basically I was no longer their problem.”

Louise had mesh inserted in 2010 to resolve bladder and bowel issues following childbirth.

In July 2022 a contract to enable NHS patients to visit Dr Dionysios Veronikis in Missouri to receive transvaginal mesh removal surgery was signed. Louise said it was during her operation that Dr Veronikis discovered her mesh implant had caused irreversible damage.

The former GP surgery worker, said: “To live through the nightmare of mesh, to then be told the doctors couldn’t see me anymore and also that I can’t go to another health board is just devastating. I’m too young for my life to be over.”

Janet Weatheritt had mesh removed in America but still faces major medical issues
Women in Scotland who suffered from stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse were treated with Polypropylene mesh implants between the late 90s until 2018.

Janet Weatheritt, who underwent mesh removal surgery in the US in August, said she was told doctors didn’t have the skills to carry out the repairs.
The 53-year-old, from Morningside, Lanarkshire, said: “If the very people who sent us to America can’t fix it on return, then the contract needs updating to include repairs. There needs to be clearer pathways in place.

“I feel so let down by the NHS.”

An NHSGGC spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear that Mrs Thompson is in pain following her surgery in the US.

“While it has been a successful year for the National Mesh Removal service, we recognise that some patients continue to seek mesh removal from alternative providers.

“We understand that there are circumstances where women may require aftercare following surgery with alternative providers and there is a clear pathway following mesh removal which is shared with all patients ahead of travel and treatment.

“This pathway informs women that while they will be discharged from the National Mesh Service, there is ongoing care available through their GP, who can refer them onto their local Gynaecology service.”

The Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All patients undergoing mesh removal surgery will have any further treatment carried out by their local health board. This is the same regardless of whether the removal surgery is provided by the NHS or by an independent provider.

“Should any patient have concerns after returning from the independent providers, they should speak to their GP or other local clinicians.”

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