MP’s Column

I pay tribute to the women who have taken time to contact me in relation to their surgical mesh implant. MPs debated this issue and I was moved as I reported to Parliament accounts of the suffering, misery, distress and anxiety experienced by these women. Much of their experience should have been avoided. Mesh implants are medical devices used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence in women, conditions that can commonly occur after childbirth. These have been used widely, including on occasions when non-surgical interventions would have been appropriate.

Mesh has ruined lives. Many women are faced with overwhelming challenges to their health and wellbeing. For many, physical and mental health is poor, they can no longer take part in ordinary activities without discomfort and pain. Many can no longer work or even engage in normal family and social activities. I’m aware of women who are housebound. Walking around the house brings them excruciating pain.

For these ladies little can be done to correct years of discomfort, distress and indignity. They want the Health Department to ban surgical mesh or only allow its use where no alternative is available. Since the debate the Minister has written to me stating that refreshed NICE guidelines will be completed early next year. A report into this terrible episode can be found at Www.england.nhs.uk/publications/mesh-oversight-group-report/ and women can tell the Government of their experience at https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk

Also last week I secured a debate on taxes for small businesses. The current business rate tax system is indefensible and I called on the Government to scrap it in favour of a tax that relates to the activity of the business rather than the building it operates from.

Retailers face a disproportionate tax burden. The sector accounts for less than 6% of GDP yet pays 23% of business rates. No other sector has such a large disparity between its gross value added and share of the business rates burden; a fundamental unfairness which affects bricks and mortar retailers of all sizes and which I, along with most small businesses, believe needs addressing through reform and modernisation of the system.

Derek Thomas MP

For West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)