We take a look at the publication of the Hughes Report on pelvic mesh implants.
The author of the Hughes Report is England’s patient safety commissioner Dr Henrietta Hughes. She says that the lack of an independent body to decide redress for those who have been injured by pelvic mesh implants was ‘unsustainable and causing immense anxiety for harmed patients’.
A new two-stage redress scheme has been recommended, which it is proposed will be non-adversarial and deal with both financial and non-financial issues arising from pelvic mesh implants. The proposed Scheme would facilitate an Interim Scheme which is said to be “easily accessible for claimants and will result in the award of an interim payment to those directly harmed.” The first of those interim awards are anticipated to be made in 2025 and the amount to be paid has not yet been proposed, but the median figure from the survey was £25,000.
Pelvic mesh implants were inserted to provide support to internal organs; mainly to women after childbirth or a hysterectomy or to both women and men who suffered rectal prolapses. Thousands of victims are thought to have been permanently injured as a result.
The omission of individuals who underwent mesh insertion for rectal prolapse or hernia mesh has sparked considerable concern and disappointment among a substantial portion of those affected by mesh injuries. It is noteworthy that the redress scheme would exclusively accommodate individuals who underwent rectopexy for posterior vaginal prolapses, specifically rectocele. This limitation underscores the need for a more inclusive approach to address the diverse circumstances surrounding mesh-related complications.
Dr Hughes has highlighted that only two of the nine recommendations of the ‘First Do No Harm’ report on the mesh implant scandal that came out in 2020 have been implemented to date. The government, she says, has refused to set up an independent redress agency, and has been non-committal on the creation of a bespoke compensation scheme. Instead, the government has supported the creation of ‘claims gateways’ through NHS Resolution, but this has been criticised by the report as those gateways did not change the limitation periods that impact on women who wish to claim.
Caroline Webber-Brown, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with Slee Blackwell, who deals with pelvic mesh implants, is sympathetic. “We know that some people have encountered difficulties in seeking compensation through the legal system when bringing either clinical negligence claims or product liability cases,” she said. “In order to help victims we offer a free helpline, which anyone is able to call for independent, confidential guidance on their legal position.”
Caroline added that. “Our team is highly experienced in navigating the issues that pelvic mesh implant claims can encounter. And because we are able to work on a No Win, No Fee basis, injured patients should not allow worries over legal costs to put them off seeking justice.”
Whether the recommendations of the Hughes report are ever implemented remains to be seen. We are told that the health secretary is looking very carefully at the issues and we therefore await the government’s proposals. In the meantime, Caroline and her team are here to provide guidance and support to those who have suffered.