Pelvic mesh victims demand meeting with minister over 'alleged cover-up'

Two pelvic mesh victims are demanding a meeting with Health Minister Roger Cook to allege a cover-up of trials involving women - but not disclosed to them - in Western Australian public hospitals after failed attempts to locate surgical records.

The call has been backed by Health Consumers Council chief executive Pip Brennan and comes after documents show WA Health paid a secret settlement to a woman in 2013 after pelvic mesh surgery at the Bentley public hospital in December, 2003.

The woman alleged she suffered serious injuries after she was implanted with a device developed in Western Australia that used anchors embedded in her body.

Ms Brennan said Mr Cook needed to "sit down with the women and hear what they've been through" because "it seems to me there's been a real slowness to understand the impact and depth of this issue".

"He needs to understand the scale of this mesh disaster and WA Health's direct involvement with it," she said.

The device leading to the 2013 compensation - which research papers by two WA doctors say was used in Royal Perth and Armadale hospital trials - was implanted in Perth women Jeanette McKinnon and Sue Turner. They will tell a Senate inquiry hearing in Perth on August 25 that they have suffered catastrophic injuries because of the mesh surgery.

"When my doctor showed me what was in my body, I nearly vomited," said Mrs McKinnon, who only discovered this month that she was implanted with two different Western Australian-developed mesh devices in 2004 and 2005, and whose hospital records cannot be located despite extensive searches.

"I was just inconsolable. I was in such a state. What happens if they haven't got those records? How do I prove that they did this to me?" she said.

A screenshot of a hospital electronic record, which provided confirmation of one of the four operations she had in 2004 and 2005, showed the inventor of both Western Australian-developed devices attended the operating theatre along with her surgeon. Both doctors' names appear on research papers from 2005 saying trials of one of the devices at WA public hospitals had ethics committee approval.

WA Health advised Fairfax Media there are no records of research approvals for trials using the device.

"I'm disgusted. I'm horrified that the public health system can do this to us. How did it ever get like this?" Mrs McKinnon said.

"I have no faith whatsoever in the public health system. I was an experiment. I felt it at the time. Something happened to me that was serious. Something very serious went wrong.

"I absolutely feel WA Health is hiding things from us and there's a cover-up because of the experiments. What happened to me will haunt me until the day I die."

Perth urogynaecologist Dr Michelle Atherton said she was concerned Mrs McKinnon's patient notes at the Bentley Hospital could not be located, despite concerted efforts by medical records staff since a freedom of information application in late June.

"If the notes cannot be found in the next few days I will ask the hospital executive to look further into this," Dr Atherton said.

"Lack of previous operation reports impacts on the treating specialist's ability to manage problems after pelvic surgery, particularly after mesh surgery or revisions."

Mrs McKinnon sobbed while talking about using her sick and annual leave to deal with mesh complications, reducing her hours and eventually having to stop work.

"When there's problems with a car and there's a recall, there's publicity and the owners are advised. They have to do that with cars so why not with a human being? I've got mesh in me that's cancelled and I'm on my own. They just toss you on the heap but people knew what was going on. They know what happened to us," Mrs McKinnon said.

Ms Brennan, who contacted Mr Cook's office on the women's behalf on Wednesday, said she wanted to see appropriate medical and psychological support for women affected by the growing mesh scandal, "and they shouldn't have to pay for it".

"There needs to be a register of every single device in every single woman. If we have harmed women we need to make amends," she said.

Mr Cook's office referred questions to WA Health.

Questions about the device trials in WA public hospitals, put to WA Health on July 21, remain unanswered.

This story Pelvic mesh victims demand meeting with minister over 'alleged cover-up' first appeared on WA Today.