WOMEN in Oxfordshire are taking legal action against an Oxfordshire health trust after claiming to have suffered ‘catastrophic’ side effects from the now-banned 'mesh' procedure.

At least 15 women are seeking damages against Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with a temporary government ban on the practice announced this month.

A group of women, many of whom underwent the controversial procedure at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, are calling for a complete ban after the practice was stopped as a treatment for incontinence.

Mesh has been blamed for a host of issues, including chronic pain, the loss of sex lives and mobility problems by women nationwide.

The implants have reportedly cut into women’s bladders, bowels and vaginas.

The practice was still being used by the JR to treat incontinence prior to last week’s ban, despite various patients subsequently having problems and removals.

Until eight years ago, vaginal mesh procedures were also being used by the hospital for organ prolapse.

Most of the women involved want to remain anonymous, with at least 15 legal cases being pursued.

One previous patient, who labelled the operation ‘catastrophic’ claimed she was not told of the risks or alternative.

She said: “This operation changed my life for the worse. Having done my research now, my stress incontinence did not warrant an operation. I never knew that if I had a problem with the mesh it was difficult to remove and only a handful of surgeons could do this. I never knew it was plastic. I never knew it was done blind.

"I was in pain. I ended up having months off work and nearly losing my business. I am so much better without mesh."

Another JR patient, who tells a remarkably similar story,said she felt 'ignored' over her symptoms.

Kath Sansom, a journalist based in Cambridge, who started the nationwide ‘Sling the Mesh’ campaign, told the Oxford Mail that Oxford ‘is a problem area because mesh has been heavily used in the area.’

She added that the studies used by the JR to justify the use of mesh are ‘flawed’ and that precise figures were difficult to obtain, particularly since the NHS regarded ‘successful’ procedures as ones after which women were no longer incontinent – regardless of side effects.

Ingrid Granne, Clinical Director for Gynaecology for the Trust, said: "The Trust has not carried out mesh operations for prolapse since 2010.

"However, it has still been performing a limited number of mesh operations for stress urinary incontinence (known as TVT) after a full discussion with patients.

"We will be in contact with all patients currently listed for TVT operations over the coming days."

The trust did not provide further information.

Baroness Cumberlege, who is reviewing the use of mesh, will be in Oxford on Monday, September 17, to hear from those affected.

Linda Millband, head of medical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, representing over 220 mesh-injured clients, welcomed the ‘immediate and decisive’ ban.

She said: “For all the women Thompsons is acting for, injured by the use of mesh for stress incontinence, the suspension comes too late - but if it prevents one more woman being left injured for life, as many of our clients have been, then that is welcome.”