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Government inaction leaves women harmed by medical intervention adrift without support, say MPs

20 January 2023

Ministers must act urgently to enable women and children avoidably harmed by medical intervention to receive compensation and care, MPs say in a report published today.

The Committee raises particular concerns about the Government’s failure to collect data on the number of women who experienced complications following surgical mesh surgery or, in the case of sodium valproate, had been affected directly by the drug or had given birth to children affected by it. MPs question why it would not be in the interests of the Government to monitor the transgenerational effects of the drug sodium valproate and would welcome an explanation from the Health Minister.

The report finds that families have waited too long for redress or compensation because litigation through the courts was the only option open to them. Ministers had rejected an alternative approach recommended by the independent IMMDS review more than two years ago for a stand-alone redress agency.

MPs conclude that the ‘claims gateways’ which the government argued would provide further support were little more than web pages and of little benefit to those who have repeatedly expressed their frustration in seeking redress. Appearing before the Committee, Health Minister Maria Caulfield said she would be willing to consider the option of a Redress Agency as well as redress schemes.

Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP said:

“We heard heart-breaking accounts of how the health system has failed to provide proper guidance, care and support to women and their families despite them having suffered avoidable harm as a result of medical interventions.

“Though the government was asked to make a full public apology and did so in response to an independent review two years ago, a number of the recommendations Ministers accepted then have still to be fully acted upon.

“Crucially, those affected have been unable to get rightful redress because to win a legal claim for compensation they had to prove blame on the part of the healthcare provider. We have been encouraged to hear Health Minister Maria Caulfield say she is now willing to look at the idea of a redress agency and urge swift progress to rectify years or even decades of hurt.”

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Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Alicock