Intended for healthcare professionals


Avoiding harm through hearing our patients

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 06 March 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q532
  1. Bryony Dean Franklin, director1,
  2. Rosie Bartel, patient partner2,
  3. Peter Howitt, managing director3
  1. 1NIHR North West London Patient Safety Research Collaboration, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Patient author, USA
  3. 3Centre for Health Policy, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, London, UK
  4. Correspondence to: B D Franklin

Wider lessons from report on redress for people harmed by valproate and pelvic mesh

The Hughes report, released in February 2024, outlines options for redress for people in England harmed by valproate and pelvic mesh surgery.1 The report built on the findings and recommendations of the 2020 independent medicines and medical devices safety review, chaired by Julia Cumberlege.2 Both reports are harrowing reading. The Hughes report estimates that 14 000 children have been harmed from exposure to valproate while in their mother’s womb since 1973, and that at least 10 000 women have been harmed from insertion of pelvic mesh to treat stress urinary incontinence or prolapse since 1998. And these figures are just for England.

Each report includes quotes from women with epilepsy or bipolar disorder who now have disabled children, often describing guilt from having unknowingly taken a teratogenic drug during their pregnancy, and women left in debilitating pain from pelvic mesh and left unable to work, have a sex life, or enjoy everyday activities. The report makes 10 recommendations relating to appropriate redress for those harmed. In doing so, it raises cross cutting issues that need to be tackled to reduce the risk of future harms.

Inequalities in healthcare quality and safety

Socioeconomic, …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription