When consumer experience really matters

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia welcomes Health Minister Greg Hunt’s apology to women who have been severely adversely impacted by transvaginal mesh implants.

“The apology from Minister Hunt to the women who have been injured and had serious and long-term adverse impacts having transvaginal mesh implants is a very welcome acknowledgement that the system that should have protected them without fail let them down badly,” CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said.

“Everyone who read the women’s stories or heard their evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the Number of women in Australia who have had transvaginal mesh implants and related matters would admire their courage and persistence in pursuing this issue. They have raised awareness of a problem and brought forward some actions which should ensure such a failure does not re-occur.

“So many women injured by pelvic mesh talked about trying to get their doctors to listen and to take their concerns seriously but feeling ignored. The key lesson is that clinicians need to listen to people when they say there is a problem and not be dismissive. They should investigate more thoroughly and look to report adverse events more frequently.

“It is pleasing to see that the Government accepted 12 of the inquiry’s 13 recommendations but disappointing that there was no clear indication as to how and when they would be implemented. 

“Some of the reforms currently underway, specifically around the provision of information to women, will make a difference and help women make a more informed decision about the treatment they receive. They will also help women identify when something is wrong and encourage them to seek assistance and encourage their doctor to pay attention,” Ms Wells said.

The Government response does not adequately address the need to assist women who have been injured to get help, specifically in having their mesh removed. The introduction of a specific MBS rebate is welcome, but we need some guarantees that the level of funding is adequate to ensure women do not face significant out of pocket costs when they do have the procedure and that there are surgeons available and skilled in removal procedures.

We are pleased the Government has indicated it will ask COAG to look at some of these issues. It is important that State and Territory public hospital services step up and offer women access to services in a timely way.

The community need to have confidence in the regulatory system. We all want action that will ensure there is not similar systemic failure in the future.    


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Mark Metherell

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