Awaiting Reply.

OPEN LETTER TO: Hon Jacinda Adhern

PO BOX 5, Greenhithe, Auckland 0632

Monday 12 March 2018
By email to: jacinda.ardern@parliament.govt.nz

An OPEN letter: 
To the Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Regarding: Surgical Mesh Debacle.

After seeing your video message about the need to ‘press for progress’, I cannot express in words the huge feelings of disappointment and betrayal that this message has caused for so many mesh injured victims, whose lives have been utterly destroyed!!! We feel we are absolutely no better off than we were in 2014 when we presented our petition to parliament, as very little has changed, no progress has been made and although the MOH continues to say that the HSC recommendations have been and are being addressed, this is simply NOT true. 

 We met with Julie Anne Genter who was joined by Dr Stewart Jessamine on Monday 5th March to discuss the progress surrounding the HSC recommendations and the global health crisis regarding surgical mesh injuries. We were utterly appalled at the inaction and backtracking on promises made at our roundtable meeting on October 20th last year. The Cost Benefit Analysis of a mesh registry has been halted, no changes to hospital coding has occurred, and the investigation into adding an alert to hospital discharge notes hasn’t even been touched.  

It appeared evident that Julie Anne Genter was also shocked at the ‘stonewalling’ by the MOH who continue to minimise the issue behind closed doors. 

We feel absolutely gutted that all the hard work that we have done over the past 6 years has been for nothing. We have worked tirelessly to not only raise awareness of the debilitating risks associated with mesh implants, but to help implement fundamental changes that are needed to protect future patients from harm and help those already hurt.

 The first Health Select Committee wanted to action changes urgently in 2014 because of the seriousness of the mesh issue. BUT, we feel we have made absolutely NO progress at all since 2014, as none of the HSC recommendations have been fully completed, or some not even addressed at all. We feel that the surgical mesh issue is just a political football and is not being taken seriously, which is really distressing. 

 I had a lady ring me three days before this meeting, she was crying on the phone because her pain was so bad she didn’t want to live any more. Her husband had left her because she has been left disabled, unable to function in every day life, unable to have sex, he just couldn’t handle it anymore. She is a solo mum, struggling on her own and is only 44 years of age. This lady has not been accepted by ACC for her injury, she lives in a small town with no access to surgeons who have the ability to remove her mesh, or proper medical care.  

We have also recently been in contact with a man contemplating suicide and another who has attempted to commit suicide due to the mesh pain being intolerable. We have a lady in our group who’s fourteen-year-old son DID take his own life because he couldn’t bear to see his mum suffer any longer. 

I hope you can imagine how difficult it is to constantly hear facts like this on a daily basis, especially after attending the meeting we had on Monday, leaving it knowing that nothing is going to change! 

Our group has grown to over 600 now, from only 90 in 2014. I do understand there are lots of issues that the health minister and associate health minister have to contend with, but, when surgical mesh complications are so severe that people are taking their own lives, you need to step in! This issue is not going away, it will only get bigger.  I am imploring you to take action. Find the money to make things better- just do this.

The Hon Julie Anne Genter is willing to help which we are grateful for, but her power is limited and it is difficult for her to raise the mesh issue in the public domain, because the government will be asked “what are you doing about it”. (which to date is precisely nothing). 

I am contacting you because you also made promises last year to ‘fix things’ alongside the Hon David Clark. Likewise, the Hon Winston Peters spoke out about the mesh issue and the need for changes to be implemented. 

We need you to do something about this awful medical disaster. I am asking you to finally step in and take charge! We want someone completely independent to oversee the mesh issue, someone whom Dr Stewart Jessamine and the MOH would be accountable to, and someone who will actually make a difference.  

Will you employ an independent commissioner to be solely responsible for the mesh issue so that actual concrete changes are made? 
Will you ensure that a register of all mesh implants is established (which every relevant Medical college has said that they want, and is needed) instead of wasting valuable time and tax payers money on a cost benefit analysis?
Will you provide funding, so a retrospective study of mesh complications can be undertaken, to get a proper understanding of the scale and severity of mesh complications and the difficulties that patients face when trying to seek help for the harm that has been caused? 
Are you able to send a personal video message to mesh injured victims to say that they haven’t been forgotten and that you ARE taking this issue seriously?

You can make a difference if you choose to, please put patients first! 

Can you please personally respond to this letter.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Charlotte Korte
(in association with Carmel Berry and Patricia Sullivan-co founders of Mesh Down Under.