MSPs from across the political divide have warned the Health Secretary that she must take “decisive” and “radical” action on Scotland’s mesh scandal.
The Scottish Conservatives said Shona Robison was in “last chance saloon territory” to deliver justice for women who have suffered as a result of mesh procedures – branding it as “the 21st-century’s thalidomide”.
Scottish Labour urged her to set up a judge-led inquiry into the issue while others, including former health secretary Alex Neil, also pressed for the government to go further by revisiting the findings of a review group.
Synthetic transvaginal tapes and meshes are used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Thousands of women in Scotland have been treated using the implants but some have suffered painful and debilitating complications.
In 2014, Mr Neil – the then health secretary – called for the suspension of such procedures and an independent review group was set up to look at safety issues.
Its final report, published earlier this year, was branded a “whitewash” by mesh survivors, who stated many of the experts involved were too close to mesh manufacturers.
The government accepted the group’s findings, including a recommendation that mesh implants must not be offered “routinely” to women with pelvic organ prolapse.
The suspension remains in place while its findings are implemented and an oversight group is currently being established to review data and scrutinise adverse event reporting.
Ms Robison has also commissioned a further review by Alison Britton, a professor of healthcare and medical law, into the process by which the review group came to its conclusions.
Speaking during a debate at Holyrood, Tory Jackson Carlaw said the review group’s findings should be opened up to public consultation too.
“There must be no interruption to the current suspension ban, there must be a full public consultation on the content of the review which took place, to be published alongside the procedural review led by professor Britton,” he said.
Mr Carlaw warned his party would unite with others on the issue if action was not taken, adding: “The hourglass has run. I want Scotland to lead again. I want us to prevent mesh destroying more lives ahead.”
Mr Neil said: “I honestly think that as well as reviewing the process, the contents of this report are now so disrespected that we need to review the contents itself, b ecause quite frankly there isn’t universal agreement to accept the contents as it stands.”
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said she also believed that the findings of the report “must also be revisited”.
Labour’s Neil Findlay, who called for a judge-led inquiry, said: ” The review was compromised from the outset. The Government have let down mesh victims.
“This is the last chance to make radical changes to the way forward or we will bring political motions that seek to unite the opposition on this issue.”
Ms Robison said: “The request to suspend remains in place and will do so until the Chief Medical Officer is satisfied that all the recommendations (of the review group) have been implemented, including all upcoming changes to guidance and necessary safeguards are in place.
“What we all want to see is a change in the whole approach to this condition.
“The Scottish Government takes this issue very seriously and, indeed, we have made progress since the publication of the independent review report.”