Hearing from people harmed by surgical mesh

The Government is asking people to register their interest in sharing their surgical mesh experiences, in order to improve patient safety in the future.

“This government has put a lot of time and energy into preventing future problems with surgical mesh.  However, there are people already harmed and we want to provide an opportunity for those most affected to share their stories and experiences,” Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said.

“This is an opportunity to hear from New Zealanders about their lived experience of surgical mesh, and what else needs to be fixed to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

"As a first step, the Ministry of Health is gauging public interest in how people want to share their experiences. We welcome everyone’s contribution, so please head to our website to have your say.

“We know surgical mesh has caused considerable pain and harm to many New Zealanders and their whānau.

Medsafe's Adverse Events Reports Relating to Surgical Mesh Implants report, published in August, shows more than 1000 people have reported issues with surgical mesh.

Recent action has introduced new safeguards and limits on the use of mesh in urogynaecological surgery.

"In September, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield wrote to all 20 DHBs asking them to undertake credentialing of their surgeons and ensure rigorous informed consent processes are in place.

"Seven DHBs have since confirmed that their surgeons and services meet the credentialing requirements and therefore they will continue to provide urogynaecological surgeries involving mesh. Combined these DHBs have credentialed 21 surgeons.

“These DHBs represent a good geographical spread to ensure women can still access this surgery when appropriate. They are Auckland, Canterbury, Capital & Coast, Counties Manukau, Southern, Waikato and Waitemata.

The remaining DHBs have either advised that they have temporarily paused providing urogynaecological surgery involving mesh until they have completed credentialing, or they have stopped providing this surgery altogether.

“The response from DHBs shows a commitment to taking the issue of surgical mesh seriously and a commitment to providing safe, quality services to their patients,” says Associate Health Minister Julie-Anne Genter.

The Director-General's letter was also sent to the New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association, with a number of private surgical hospitals taking action in line with the public sector.