WOMEN whose lives have been shattered as a result of mesh implants have been given a formal apology by the Scottish Government.

Olive McIlroy, from Renfrew, and Elaine Holmes, from Newton Mearns, are among those who have staged a high-profile battle to ban transvaginal mesh implants.

Many women experienced serious complications after being fitted with the controversial medical devices to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has issued an unreserved apology, on behalf of the Scottish Government, to all women who have suffered because of mesh procedures.

The Gazette:

Nicola Sturgeon 

She said: “I have deep and very profound sympathy for what they have gone through and the position that they have found themselves in.

“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that many of them have experienced.”

The apology was issued a day before an investigation into the independent review on mesh implants uncovered a series of systematic failures in the way it was conducted.

Professor Alison Britton said the review was “ill-conceived, thoughtlessly structured and poorly executed.”

She was tasked by the Scottish Government with examining how the Scottish Independent Review of Transvaginal Mesh Implants was carried out following widespread criticism of its final report.

Her year-long investigative review has made a series of recommendations which may be applied to similar independent reviews in the future.

The Scottish Government said it would consider her findings.

The original mesh review was commissioned by ministers after a number of women, including Mrs McIlroy and Mrs Holmes, spoke out at Holyrood on their experiences of being treated with the medical devices.

The review group was set up in 2014 but its final report was not published until March 2017.

Prior to publication, the first chair of the group and three members resigned.

There were claims the report was a “whitewash,” with key parts warning of the risks of mesh implants removed.

Prof Britton’s report states: “Having reviewed the evidence, we have concluded that the mesh review and the process leading up to the publication of its final report were characterised by systematic failures.

“We found that the Mesh Review was ill-conceived, thoughtlessly structured and poorly executed.

“Negative factors, including irreconcilable differences of opinion of review members, lack of agreement on the interpretation of evidence, unhelpful political and media influences and pressure to complete the report, only served to magnify the failures in the process.”

It continued: “Whether the mesh review was independent was a recurring concern.

“The independence of any investigation is the spine which gives it credibility and legitimacy. Our investigation identified a number of problems with how the mesh review solicited, monitored and reported relevant declarations and conflicts of interests by members of the review group.

“We record a number of criticisms on how the Mesh Review was conducted. Some of these criticisms have informed our recommendations.

“However, we were satisfied that no one involved in the Mesh Review was acting in bad faith.”

Prof Britton’s 46 recommendations include setting up a dedicated unit to support commissioned reviews, as well as the application of a test of impartiality to allow a review group member’s prior knowledge or involvement in a subject to be disclosed and evaluated.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “This report reveals the SNP’s original mesh review was a complete whitewash.

“It is now time for the SNP government to completely ditch this discredited review and immediately pledge to deliver a thorough and truly independent inquiry.”

The Gazette:

Jackson Carlaw 

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said there were “very serious lessons to be learned” for the Scottish Government.

“The recommendations of Professor Britton must be accepted in full,” he added.

Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw, who is interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives, described mesh campaigners such as Mrs McIlroy and Mrs Holmes as “heroes”.

He said: “This has surely been the greatest self-inflicted health scandal since thalidomide in the 1960s.”