What progress has been made in Wales in implementing the findings of the Cumberlege review: First do no harm, published in July 2020?
The Cumberlege recommendations are primarily focused on England but they have implications for Wales.
I issued a written statement on 15 July about the Cumberlege review: https://gov.wales/written-statement-baroness-cumberleges-announcement-use-surgical-mesh
In that statement, I said the principle of high vigilance to ensure mesh use is restricted until the same conditions Baroness Cumberlege identified in her report are met should also apply in Wales. Her recommendations were consistent with those made by the review panel, which I set up at the end of 2019.
It is my expectation that sufficient levels of clinical governance, including consent, audit and research are in place in health boards in Wales to ensure all women can be confident that all possible safeguards are in place.
The evidence we have already of a significant reduction in the use of vaginal mesh procedures in Wales suggests a “pause” is already largely in place, driven by a change in clinical decision making during recent years. However, it is my expectation that these additional restrictions will be the case until the requirements for increased safeguards can be met.
Action has already been taken on some of the recommendations. Specialist mesh centres have been identified in Swansea and Cardiff and work is underway in establishing a UK-wide medical device information system.
In addition, the Women’s Health Implementation Group will be tasked with considering many of the recommendations of the Cumberlege review as they pertain to mesh, as this is consistent with work the group is already doing in this area.
My officials are examining the other recommendations which relate to Wales and are working with the other UK governments to look at those recommendations with a UK remit. The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, currently before the House of Lords, will also impact in relevant areas.
I will issue a further statement when officials have completed their assessment of the options available and their implications for the future effectiveness of Wales’ healthcare service.