Mesh Casualty Comes to the UK

Jane Akre
April 15, 2021

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, April 15, 2021 ~ The Casualty of Transvaginal Mesh Makes it to Millions of UK Living Rooms

Mesh News Desk has always strived to make the mesh madness front page news, not unlike Fen-phen, breast implants, or thalidomide was years ago. 

Unfortunately in the U.S. that really hasn’t happened. 

But in the much smaller country of England, medical procedures using polypropylene mesh and the fallout it can cause will be broadcast to millions in their living rooms nightly. 

The show is Casualty, a British medical drama series set in a hospital in south-west England. The staff has seen a turnstile of casualties as it tackles the fallout from social controversies of the time - feminism, racism, and conservatism.

Casualty is the longest running drama ever on television with an audience of more than five million viewers on BBC since 1986. It’s broadcast across Europe on BBC Entertainment. 

Expect the casualties of the mesh madness to join the story lineup this year. According to a summary, the mother of a doctor is rushed  to the emergency department suffering from sepsis. Her son, the doctor, didn’t know she was implanted with polypropylene mesh and neither did his mother. 

The mesh storyline will be introduced April 17th.

Sling the Mesh

Kath Sansom, a journalist and founder of the Sling the Mesh Campaign, was recently brought in to consult to make sure the story matched real world conditions.   

“The Casualty thing is huge and this is a huge new audience for mesh awareness. It will reach a whole new audience of people to raise awareness. I’m hoping it will help raise awareness among clinicians but also among friends, family and work colleagues of those suffering who may finally realize how awful it is for people.”

Kath had a few phone conversations with one of the script writers on ideas and how best to portray the issues. 

“The person was really good at understanding the issues and picking up on key points to include. They have been brilliant.
“Once we had phone calls then some outline plot ideas were run by me to see what I thought. Again more discussions. Once the scripts were ready I got to see them to proof them and make comments / edits. The final edit was sent to me in December to read and make final points
“It is hard to condense all the issues surrounding mesh to a newcomer who knows nothing about it but they were so good at listening to all the points made, all the issues women face and also how best to make the story engaging and also authentic. 
“I cannot thank the team enough for highlighting this important women's health issue and really taking care over the storyline.” 

Kath believes this is a huge new audience for mesh awareness. Sansom has brought a mesh injured audience before Parliament in London as well as urged an investigation into mesh injuries in the UK.  I asked her why don’t we get the same traction in the U.S?

“The trouble with America is that it's so big and such a huge thing to crack. I suspect that’s why it's been easier to do in the UK  because it's such a smaller country.   Pulse I just never stop bashing around raising awareness and doing stuff!”

Casualty can be seen on BBC One and the transvaginal mesh storyline will run October 4, 2021. See the story breakdown in Digital Spy.

Sansom recently wrote an editorial critical of the UK regulatory system, MHRA, which she says has become a system of passive regulation that works in concert with industry.


The story line is like this.  “Bibi” is treated for possible sepsis, “leaving Marty panic-stricken when he learns the extent of his mum’s problems.”

“Bibi tells Ethan she had a vaginal mesh put in for stress incontinence, which has been causing her problems ever since.  Ethan is horrified to learn that Bibi had the operation at a private clinic and that she wasn’t warned about the complications or supported through her problems.  Marty and his father Graham are also alarmed by this news, and Marty feels guilty for being absent in his mother’s life, having had no idea about the surgery.

Marty vows to fight for justice.

“When a scan reveals that Bibi has a pelvic abscess, Marty learns from Dylan the devastating effects that mesh can sometimes have on the body.  Dylan goes on to explain that women's health problems are often dismissed and frequently go undiagnosed.

As Marty tries to wrap his head around what has happened, Bibi suddenly deteriorates and is rushed for emergency surgery. During the operation, it is revealed that some of the mesh is fused to her bowel and removing it would drastically change Bibi's quality of life.

Marty is left devastated that his mum will be living in chronic pain forever and vows to fight the clinic that [sic] responsible for this."

See the spoilers for the first week of October 2021.


Sling the Mesh and 8,800 members

See Kath Sansom recent editorial in Patient Safety Learning

Camb Times, April 13, 2021 BBC drama Casualty storyline to feature pelvic mesh implant scandal

CambTimes video

BMJ Opinion on the Baroness Cumberlege review First Do No Harm, Good summary of UK mesh issues

Petition to UK Government and Parliament to create government compensation for all mesh implant recipients, due by May 13, ,2021

MND, July 11, 2018, Incontinence Mesh Use Suspended in England Pending Govt. Review

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