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Kiwi women living with complications from surgical mesh describe day-to-day struggles

Hundreds of people have registered with the Ministry of Health to speak out about the harm caused by surgical mesh complications.

The first restorative justice forum got underway in Wellington today and additional sessions are being put on to meet demand. 

Meanwhile, one study has detailed the devastating consequences the mesh has had for some people.

After years of her own pelvic surgical mesh complications, Jacqueline Brown has been researching the issue and how "what we do to somebody's body actually impacts on their whole life, their ability to work, to have relationships, to care for their family".

"A Thorn in the Flesh: The Experience of Women Living with Pelvic Surgical Mesh Complications" focused on seven Kiwi women.

Mrs Brown told 1 NEWS how "one participant stood for the hour and a half of interview, another one lay on the couch, another one had to kneel on her knees in front of me because she couldn't sit at all".

The women enjoyed active lifestyles and employment before surgery.

Donna described being "a hardworking, strong woman that loved life and especially the outdoors. I am now a tired, in constant pain,  disabled woman who cannot enjoy the things I used to love".

The problems caused by mesh for me has almost felt like a life sentence of home detention, it has been so isolating - Beth, interviewee

For some, their physical world has shrunk due to chronic pain. 

"The problems caused by mesh for me has almost felt like a life sentence of home detention, it has been so isolating," said Beth.

Ruth spoke of not being able to stay over at other people’s homes because she worried: "Am I going to get to the toilet in time?"

They're the kinds of stories Nelson pelvic physiotherapist Sharon Wilson hears from her own patients.

"They've tried to find help and haven't been able to find help. They've gone to surgeons and the surgeons have said 'no it's not mesh, it's not what I’ve done'.

But while she can’t offer a perfect fix, she says the treatments offer hope to sufferers.

"If I can come back down to say, 'okay. This is what I can do for muscles, this is what we can do for your scarring. Let's try and relax stuff around all that mesh, that's when I think physios can have a role to play".

According to the latest MedSafe report, 1070 adverse events relating to mesh have been reported since 2005. 

We need to be reconnecting these women back to their lives - Jacqueline Brown, researcher

More than 300 people have signed up to restorative justice forums that give people a chance to have their say. 

The Ministry of Health says it's bringing together all groups responsible for responding to mesh harm and injury to get the best response.

"These include the medical colleges, ACC, HDC, the Medical Council, Medsafe and the Ministry of Health," explains Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Simpson.

"Through facilitated discussion, all these responsible parties will listen to the impact of mesh harm in order to understand the impact, clarify responsibilities and inform government action".

Jacqueline Brown wants to see guaranteed action.

"We need to be reviewing declined ACC treatment injury claims, we need to have a team of people who are assessing mesh injured women medically, psychologically, physio and occupational therapy".

"Basically reconnecting these women back to their lives, their families and their communities".

The forums will be held throughout the country over the next few months.

The full study can be read on the University of Otago's website.

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The Ministry of Health is adding more restorative justice forums to meet increased demand. Source: 1 NEWS