One of the biggest public health scandals in recent years is the pain and suffering endured by many women across Scotland implanted with transvaginal mesh.

For readers who are unfamiliar, surgical mesh is a loosely woven sheet which is used as either a permanent or temporary support for organs, reconstructive work or other tissues during surgery.

The use of mesh to treat some conditions is controversial, as evidenced by it being banned for certain procedures in some countries.

In the case of transvaginal mesh, it took years of tireless campaigning by affected women before the Scottish Government took action, last year creating a mesh removal reimbursement scheme.

But I fear we face yet another significant public health scandal relating to mesh implants – those used to treat patients with hernias in our NHS.

Just as the women affected by transvaginal mesh were initially ignored, hernia patients experiencing real pain and suffering because of surgical mesh implants find themselves in a similar position now.

Successive Scottish Government health secretaries and ministers have dismissed their concerns and even outright refused to meet them.

Calls for an independent review into the scale of any issues they face have been repeatedly ignored. Even now, the Scottish Government continues to refuse to engage with this issue despite the powerful testimonies and campaigning of affected individuals.

That’s why I recently submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all of Scotland’s health boards to seek to establish the scale of the issue.

Many declined to share information on the numbers of hernia patients who’ve been readmitted to hospital due to complications arising from the mesh.

However, NHS Ayrshire and Arran was one of those which did – and the information makes for shocking reading.

In total, eight per cent of all hernia patients in NHS Ayrshire and Arran implanted with surgical mesh since 2015 have been readmitted to hospital due to complications.

This suggests there is an issue facing hernia patients which must be recognised and explored further by the Scottish Government.

As ministers continue to refuse to engage on the issue, I will be working with campaigners to continue to raise awareness and to push for action from the Scottish Government.

My constituents have a petition before the Scottish Parliament which calls for the suspension of the use of surgical mesh until an independent review has been carried out into this issue.

I will continue to speak in favour of the petition as it returns for further consideration by Parliament in the coming weeks.

The Scottish Government are also currently taking legislation through Parliament which seeks to create the post of an independent Patient Safety Commissioner.

This Commissioner would have the power to investigate any safety concerns brought to them by patients about NHS treatment and care.

I believe that we must ensure any such role includes reviewing of the use of surgical mesh to treat hernias and to determine the true scale of the issues that it can cause for patients.