Specialist women's health scanner installed at CUMH in 2021 only used once

Only 18 women have been scanned after a €1m investment in facilities at CUMH and NMH due to staff shortages and faulty equipment
Specialist women's health scanner installed at CUMH in 2021 only used once

A €1m investment for CUMH and the National Maternity Hospital saw two translabial scanners, used to identify complications caused by insertion of vaginal mesh, installed.

A specialist scanner installed in Cork University Maternity Hospital for women suffering from vaginal mesh complications almost eight months ago has only been used on one day due to consultant shortages.

A €1m investment for CUMH and the National Maternity Hospital saw two translabial scanners, used to identify complications caused by insertion of vaginal mesh, installed.

The Cork machine was installed on November 18, 2021. A training day on November 28, run by a specialist from Croydon University Hospital in England, followed for one local consultant and four from Dublin.

That day, nine women were scanned, a hospital spokeswoman said.

“Since then, no further translabial scans have taken place as CUMH is actively engaging in the recruitment of a consultant post to carry out these specialised scans,” she said.

The NMH service has also faced delays. Its scanner was installed 18 months ago, but a spokeswoman said on delivery it “was missing an important component”.

She said: “Nine have been scanned to date and there are two or three on a waiting list” for Dublin.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said the HSE Mesh Complications Service in both hospitals was funded with “an investment of €1m.” 

Margaret Byrne from Belgard Tallaght during an Oireachtas Health Commitee hearing from women who have been affected by the vaginal mesh scandal, on how lack of specialised healthcare affected them at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin. Picture: Gareth Chaney
Margaret Byrne from Belgard Tallaght during an Oireachtas Health Commitee hearing from women who have been affected by the vaginal mesh scandal, on how lack of specialised healthcare affected them at Leinster House on Kildare Street Dublin. Picture: Gareth Chaney

The scanners were funded through the National Women and Infants Health Programme in 2019, their annual report states.

The use of vaginal mesh for urinary stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse surgeries in public hospitals was paused in 2018.

Margaret Byrne, a member of Mesh Survivors Ireland, yesterday attended an Oireachtas Health Committee hearing on the State’s response to these complications.

“It is truly frustrating,” she said. “I’m in pain the whole time. I got the mesh put in in the year 2000, so it's 22 years.” 

She is still dealing with the aftermath of eight surgeries and ongoing treatment.

“Things have changed in that definitely the Government is aware of it, the surgeons know about it,” she said. “I do feel there is a lot more needs to be done.” 

The committee also heard from Dr Susan O'Sullivan, a urogynecologist from the HSE's Cork mesh centre.

She said total removal of the mesh is a complicated procedure, and that it is not always clear if a patient's symptoms are directly related to the mesh.

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