Four middle aged women on a walk with blue skies in the background. The Hughes Report–‘options for redress for those harmed by valproate and pelvic mesh’

The Hughes Report–‘options for redress for those harmed by valproate and pelvic mesh’

Bernadette McGhie, Consultant in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, personal injury and medical negligence team. Amy Anderson, Associate in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, personal injury and medical negligence team.
Multiple Authors
3 min Read
Bernadette McGhie, Amy Anderson

Following release of The Hughes Report today, consultant Bernadette McGhie and associate Amy Anderson delve into its implications. 

In The Hughes Report, released today, the Patient Safety Commissioner puts forward her recommendations for what a suitable redress scheme for patients harmed by pelvic mesh and sodium valproate could look like.

Options for redress

Baroness Cumberlege’s ‘First Do No Harm’ Review, which published its findings in July 2020, provided an initial assessment of healthcare and regulatory failures relating to women’s health. This earlier review looked at not only the use of pelvic mesh in gynaecological surgery (for example, in the insertion of tension-free vaginal tape and transobturator tapes to treat stress urinary incontinence) but also the prescription of sodium valproate (an anti-epileptic drug) during pregnancy.

The Hughes Report is the important ‘next step’ following on from Baroness Cumberlege’s review, focussing on how to provide redress, rather than why. The Hughes Report sets out to explain what the Government should do to meet the needs of the individual patients who have suffered otherwise avoidable harm due to failures in medical treatment concerning pelvic mesh and sodium valproate.

Navigating legal entitlements

Today’s report sets out a series of important recommendations for what a suitable redress scheme could look like, involving a combination of non-financial and financial elements. The report recommends that any redress scheme should:

  • be co-designed with patients harmed by pelvic mesh and sodium valproate
  • be straightforward, accessible and non-adversarial
  • be administered by an independent body that commands the confidence of those needing to access it
  • provide harmed patients with a fixed interim sum of financial redress to start in 2025 (the ‘interim scheme’)
  • offer more bespoke financial support to directly harmed patients based on their individual circumstances (the ‘main scheme’)
  • also provide harmed patients with access to non-financial redress
  • offer free emotional support to those affected
  • be publicised to ensure all potentially eligible patients are aware of its existence

Whilst the Commissioner does not have the requisite power to set up a redress scheme, the project will involve advising the Government on the potential future options for redress. Decisions on implementing any redress schemes will come down to the Government.

The evolution of redress

For many of those affected, the harm they suffered could have been avoided had they received appropriate medical care and therefore they may potentially have the grounds to bring a clinical negligence claim.  Many patients affected by pelvic mesh and sodium valproate will have explored their entitlement to bring a claim; some will be in the midst of litigation currently; and others may have settled their claims some time ago.  It is unclear whether those who have received compensation previously would also be entitled to access any future redress scheme.

Prior to publishing The Hughes Report, the Commissioner surveyed over 500 people to gather opinions on various redress options.  One of the questions put to the responders was whether those who have already received compensation through legal means (for example, through a medical negligence or a product liability claim) should be denied access to any redress scheme.  The majority of those who responded said ‘no’.

The Hughes Report acknowledges that ‘redress’ differs from the compensation that could be achieved through litigation.  Redress schemes could provide an alternative, non-adversarial route for patients looking for redress rather than compensation through litigation. The Report accepts that such schemes have their limitations, “do not try to match how a court would award financial damages” and may therefore only represent a “contribution towards the losses people have suffered”.

Currently it remains to be seen whether the Government will opt to implement a redress scheme for those harmed by pelvic mesh or sodium valproate and, if so, when.  Those affected, and the solicitors who represent them in their compensation claims, will be watching closely as the Government digests The Hughes Report and we await further news on the shape that any future redress scheme is likely to take.

If you have been affected by any of the issues above please speak with a member of the personal injury team.

Get in touch

If you would like to speak with a member of the team you can contact our personal injury law solicitors by email, by telephone on +44 (0)20 3826 7517 or complete our enquiry form below.

Briefings Personal injury and medical negligence The Hughes Report the Patient Safety Commissioner redress scheme for patients redress scheme pelvic mesh and sodium valproate pelvic mesh sodium valproate ‘First Do No Harm’ Review women’s health gynaecological surgery