Belfast Telegraph

Just one Northern Ireland MPs to attend key vaginal mesh debate in Commons

By Lisa Smyth

Only one Northern Ireland MP has confirmed they will attend a crucial Westminster debate on the vaginal mesh scandal that has destroyed the lives of hundreds of people here.

The DUP's Emma Little Pengelly has said she will be present.

Fellow DUP MP Jim Shannon hopes to be there for some of the Commons backbench business debate. The party's health spokesman has to attend another event running at the same time so is unlikely to be able to remain for the entire debate.

North Down MP Sylvia Hermon, an independent, has a prior engagement and cannot attend, while Sinn Fein MPs refuse to take their Westminster seats.

The trauma experienced by women around the world after undergoing transvaginal mesh procedures has been described by some senior doctors as the "most serious women's health scandal since thalidomide".

Five members of campaign group Sling the Mesh NI are travelling to London to watch the debate. Jackie Harvey of the group expressed frustration at the lack of support from politicians here.

"We have hundreds of members, we have women who have ended up in wheelchairs, they can't walk, they have lost their bladders, their marriages have broken down," she said.

"It isn't too strong to say that lives have been ruined because of the use of vaginal mesh.

"I don't think it is too much to expect all of our MPs to attend the debate on Thursday."

Emma Little Pengelly said her party had written to health departments in Northern Ireland and England, raising concern over why the issue was not taken seriously for so long.

"We have had many discussions with campaigners and sufferers. Further research is needed into mesh procedures and adverse effects," she said.

"There needs to be an improved and more holistic approach to caring for women affected, with an updating of clinical guidance and standards."

Belfast Telegraph

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