Woman who suffered 'dreadful pain' after surgical mesh implant, welcomes restorative justice forums

Source: 1News

A woman who says she suffered dreadful pain after surgical mesh was inserted is welcoming the chance for people harmed by mesh to take part in restorative justice forums.

The Government is organising sessions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for anyone affected by surgical mesh to share their experience, with the first of the forums to be held later this month.

The Ministry of Health says it's committed to ensuring New Zealanders who've been harmed by surgical mesh are supported and their concerns addressed.   

Carmel Berry of Mesh Downunder, a support for New Zealanders injured by surgical mesh, told 1 NEWS the forums will be an opportunity for all the people who have been harmed or affected by surgical mesh to have their say.

She said the forums will include not only women, but men with hernia complications and pain and "everyone's extended families if they want to say how they've been impacted".

Ms Berry said it's probably the first time in the world "where everybody has a chance to talk about their experiences" with surgical mesh. 

Recounting her own experience of surgical mesh, Ms Berry said she was one of the "early adopters" of the technology.

"I didn't know I was a guinea pig. But I had a hysterectomy in 2004, and the thinking at that stage was to put a big piece of mesh in to support the other pelvic organs so that nothing would ever fall out again. 

"And following that I developed urinary incontinence, and I was also in dreadful pain. So I had a follow up procedure where they put a bladder mesh in as well which my body also didn't like,

"And I have had 12 different procedures since then to try and take pieces of it out. But unfortunately there's still more to go."

Ms Berry said people harmed by the mesh would be delighted to receive "a heartfelt, meaningful apology".

The restorative justice forum expects to talk to about 500 people.

Ministry of Health Chief Nursing Officer Margareth Broodkoorn said the forums are being held so people affected by surgical mesh "can feel heard, so they can feel acknowledged and so that we can work out what to do next with that information".

Ms Broodkoorn said if people can't go to the meetings they can still have their say through phone calls or recorded interviews, "and we may well meet with them if there's that opportunity".

Between 2005 and 2018 Medsafe received 1070 adverse event reports relating to surgical mesh and related devices.

The majority of those complaints, 992, came from ACC. Forty-four were from patients and 28 from the device suppliers.