Sturgeon under fire at tense FM Questions

Today was another Thursday and another First Ministers questions. However, the growing controversies around Mesh and the fresh expenses scandal involving Glasgow’s Lord Provost put Nicola Sturgeon in a difficult position. So, what are these issues?

The Mesh has been used commonly to treat weaknesses in the pelvic wall (often Pelvic Organ Collapse) among women, particularly after childbirth. However, in 2017, the Scottish Government carried out a review of the safety and efficacy of transvaginal meshes and found that not only did it provide no more benefit than surgery to repair native tissue but the high rates of later complications have left many women with chronic pain issues. Many of these complications are so serious that the Mesh is no longer given out by the NHS and numerous law-suits are currently on-going from women who have had their lives seriously impacted by the surgery.

Which brings us to the specific controversy surrounding the Scottish Parliament at the moment. United States based Doctor Dionysios Veronikis, world leading surgeon of Mesh removal, offered to come to Scotland to see as many women as possible and train Scottish surgeons on Mesh-removal.

However, after months of talks with senior health officials, Veronikis now says he cannot come to Scotland and that he “no longer believes officials or surgeons in Scotland ever seriously tried to bring me to Scotland.”

More than that, three Scottish women have gone to Missouri to see Dr Veronikis for surgery. They discovered that their previous surgeries, described by Scottish Surgeons as full Mesh removals, were actually partial Mesh removals and that what was on their medical record was a lie.

In First Ministers Questions today, Jackson Carlow accused Senior NHS Officials and the Government of deliberately obstructing Veronikis’ ability to come to Scotland. Carlow contacted one of Scotland’s leading Mesh experts about the visit, he said:

“I can confirm that surgeons here felt deeply threatened by Dr Veronikis’ offer to visit Scotland. No doubt there is a professional conspiracy against him and his visit. The surgeons suggested another U.S. surgeon, Harold Goldman, who is one of the most prominent proponents of continuing the use of Mesh.”

In response, Sturgeon said that she didn’t know of any evidence of a professional conspiracy about Dr Veronikis’ visit but takes the issue very seriously.

The second big controversy of the day is that of Eva Bolnader, Lord Provost of Glasgow, who is facing criticism after claiming expenses on £8,000 worth of clothing. She has since apologised for the claims but defended that the claims were made “in good faith”.

In FMQs today, Nicola Sturgeon was urged to pressure Bolander to step down from her position but she, too, defended the Provost. Sturgeon said that Bolander had made many legitimate claims and “had reflected” on those that people are criticising.

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