The First Minister has given a formal apology on behalf of the Scottish Government to thousands of women across the country who suffered from mesh implants.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw used his first appearance at First Minister’s Questions – standing in for party leader Ruth Davidson while she is on maternity leave – to call on the Government to say sorry.
Transvaginal mesh implants were linked to the death of a 75-year-old woman earlier this year and have left many of those fitted with the devices with painful and debilitating conditions.
Mr Carlaw said campaigners against the use of mesh implants are “heroes”.
Campaigners included sufferer Elaine Holmes, who was in the public gallery. She first raised the issue in parliament through a public petition along with Olive McIlroy.
“This has surely been the greatest self-inflicted health scandal since thalidomide in the 1960s,” he said.
“First Minister, during our October recess the Australian government issued a full and formal apology to all those whose lives have been compromised by mesh,” he added.
“Will the First Minister follow suit and on behalf of the Scottish Government today match that apology to all the women in Scotland who have suffered?”
He also asked her to commit to publishing a review by Professor Alison Britton into a previous review on mesh use seen as a “whitewash” and to modify the disabled blue badge parking scheme to enable those affected by mesh to use it.
He said his party would support Scottish Government representations to the UK Government regarding the UK regulatory body which controls mesh.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Let me say today on behalf of the Scottish Government I apologise unreservedly to any woman who has suffered because of mesh procedures.”
She said she has previously offered her apologies, as have the current and former health secretaries.
Ms Sturgeon added: “In terms of the women affected, I have deep and very profound sympathy for what they have gone through and the position that they have found themselves in.
“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that many of them have experienced.
“That’s why, of course, the Scottish Government has acted, through the setting up of the review and the work that has flowed from that review.
“And of course in her first few weeks as health secretary Jeane Freeman announced what is effectively a ban, a temporary halt for all mesh procedures, and that will be lifted only when a new restricted use protocol is put in place.
“That will ensure that procedures are only carried out in future in the most exceptional of circumstances and subject to a very robust process of approval and fully informed consent.”
She said ministers have recently been given the Britton review which would be published and pledged to accept its recommendations or give reasons for not doing so.
The First Minister said she would ask Society Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville to look at extending the blue badge parking scheme.