IN October last year Health Minister Greg Hunt apologised to Australian women left with sometimes "horrific outcomes" after pelvic mesh surgery dating back to the late 1980s.
As we now know regulators failed to ensure devices were only registered for use in Australia after evidence they were safe to use and would do what they were supposed to do. Then regulators failed to respond for years as women complained of serious complications.
Doctors failed to do due diligence on the devices that were being spruiked by manufacturers directly, and via conferences designed to put manufacturers in direct contact with doctors, and where even the pens and notebooks were sponsored.
Medical colleges and doctors failed to recognise how all that mesh manufacturer money was a conflict of interest, and promises of quicker surgical turnarounds with the new devices could also provide a financial incentive for doctors to take them up.
Gai Thompson is one of thousands of Australian women left to deal with the consequences of decades of health system failures. She went to America in May to have her mesh removed by a surgeon with experience removing more than 2000 mesh devices. Since she was implanted with two mesh devices in 2008 she has seen more than 20 Australian specialists, some of whom told her she had no mesh complications and her problems were in her head.
Like many women she has lost trust in the Australian health system.
Across Australia state governments are attempting to respond to one of the recommendations of a 2018 Senate inquiry - the establishment of multi-disciplinary units to provide the services many women need. They range from surgical treatment, physiotherapy, psychiatric services, chronic pain management and disability aids such as wheelchairs, walkers and colostomy and urinary bags for women whose bladders and bowels have had to be removed or are badly damaged.
Those attempts have not been successful, in part because they are doctor and health bureaucrat-driven.
The Federal Government's refusal to conduct a full retrospective audit of women implanted with mesh devices since the first surgeries in Western Australia in the late 1980s leaves authorities flying blind to the extent of women affected.