It is becoming increasingly clear that there has been a major failure of the health system with regard to the use of transvaginal mesh to treat women. Many women have been left with permanent injuries and disabilities as a result of this device being implanted.
We welcome this Senate Inquiry as a very public means of shining a light on what has happened, looking at ways women who have been injured can be assisted and putting in place changes to the processes to ensure similar events can be avoided. Consumers have the right to be able to feel confident that the medical devices that are implanted in their bodies are safe and effective and will improve the quality of their life. In the case of transvaginal mesh this has clearly not been the case for all women.
It is of concern that we do not know how many women are impacted by this as we don’t know how many women had the mesh implanted and how many have had adverse effects but have not reported them. The Health Issues Centre(HIC) in Victoria along with the other State and Territory Health Care Consumers organisations (HCOs) have collected stories and HIC ran an anonymous survey to try to get a better understanding of the magnitude in terms of numbers affected and in terms of the injuries, disabilities and negative impact on women’s lives. The response to this was quite overwhelming and HIC documents this in its submission to the Inquiry as do the State and Territory health care consumers organisations (HCOs) in theirs.
It is worth making the point that this informal collection of data would not have been necessary if the processes of adverse reporting were improved and if the use of registries for implantable devices were more widely used . This is one of the key recommendations from the HCOs submission that we endorse.
CHF is indebted to them for undertaking this work and sharing it with us to assist with our submission.