Women who claim to have been harmed by vaginal mesh implant surgery have been left “angry and distraught” after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) closed down a law firm acting for them.
Fortitude Law in Haywards Heath, Sussex was shut last month because there was “reason to suspect dishonesty” on the part of Darren Hanison, a recognised sole practitioner.
Campaign group Sling the Mesh said Mr Hanison was representing many of its members and that the move has left them “understandably angry and distraught”.
It said: “Having given their most personal and upsetting details of mesh injuries, and put their trust in this man, women must now start over again to find a new lawyer. Some feel too tired, ill or worn down to do it.”
The group quoted the reactions of members. “I’ve not slept, still shocked and numb,” said one.
Another wrote: “I feel crushed. I’ve contacted the Law Society but all they did was give me some local solicitor numbers and have rung them all.
“No one seems to want to take the case on now, due to the time constraints. Also they don’t appear to understand the complications of mesh. I feel like I’ve gone a bit crazy and maybe all these symptoms are in my head.”
The women say they have been left in excruciating pain after being fitted with surgical mesh implants used to treat prolapse, incontinence, hernia repair and in some breast reconstructions following mastectomy.
Most are injured by mesh made from polypropylene plastic, although some are suffering from biological mesh grafts.
Back in 2018, the government and NHS accepted the recommendation from the independent medicines and medical devices safety review to pause the use of vaginally inserted surgical mesh for stress urinary incontinence.
Sling the Mesh said the situation was “a stark reminder that financial redress must be given to women harmed… in a timely and non-adversarial manner” in line with a key recommendation of the review.
The group recommended Fortitude clients looking for a new solicitor turn to patient safety and justice charity AvMA rather than the Law Society. “Our experience is that they will just give you a number for a local lawyer in your area,” it said.
A tweet from another group, Rectopexy Mesh Victims and Support, said: “After hearing the news regarding fortitude law many of our members with them are extremely worried and stressed another reason why government REDRESS for mesh victims is urgently needed.”
Another user wrote: “Women are being dropped by law firms as they can’t ‘prove’ that mesh has caused their damage + they are up against the surgeons who implanted it, they’re being let down by bad law firms. It’s almost impossible to get compensation for lifelong damage #redress needed for #mesh now!”
Midlands firm Freeths is advertising itself online as able to take on these cases. “We have successfully run a number of vaginal mesh and TVT cases for our clients, against both NHS trusts and private surgeons,” it said.
“We have obtained significant compensation settlements, including an out-of-court settlement for £80,000 for one claimant, and have secured apologies from those responsible for the challenges our clients have had to face.”
Freeths added that it was working on taking “a number of significant vaginal mesh and TVT [tension-free vaginal tape] cases towards mediation”.