MPs say Government must provide compensation and care to women and children avoidably harmed by pelvic mesh or sodium valproate.
Medical interventions – women need redress and support
In a report published on 20January, the Health and Social Care Select Committee, says that the Government must act urgently to enable women and children avoidably harmed by 2 medical interventions (pelvic mesh and sodium valproate) to receive compensation and care. The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, ‘First Do No Harm’, commissioned by the Government in 2018 and conducted by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, looked at 3 interventions that are having a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of women and children: pelvic mesh, used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence that has moved, twisted or disintegrated and is causing severe pain; sodium valproate, an epilepsy drug that allegedly has a 1 in 2 risk of causing harm to unborn children when taken during pregnancy; and primodos, a hormone pregnancy test that can also causes harm to babies. The Cumberlege Report found that litigation through the courts was the only option open to women seeking redress and compensation. It made 9 recommendations, which the Government has is said to have little about. In its report, the Health and Social Care Select Committee points to the Government’s failure to collect data on the number of women who experienced complications following surgical mesh surgery or, in the case of sodium valproate, have been affected directly by the drug or have given birth to children affected by it. MPs conclude that the ‘claims gateways’ which the government argued would provide further support were little more than web pages and of little benefit to those who have repeatedly tried to get redress. Health Minister Maria Caulfield has said she is now willing to look at the idea of an independent redress agency as called for in the 2020 Cumberlege report.