England’s most senior doctor has been told by the government to urgently respond to new data that shows how many women have had vaginal mesh surgery.
Since 2008 27,016 have had the implant – which is used to treat incontinence and prolapse – and 211 women have had it removed, data shows.
Women have complained about implants causing agony by cutting into tissue.
Chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies has been told to respond to the data within a month.
The new NHS Digital figures show that 21 people had operations to remove vaginal mesh implants in 2016-17 – down from 30 the year before that and a peak of 42 in 2011-12.
In 2016-17 2,680 women were given the implants compared with a high of 3,413 in 2011-12.
The data is not connected to the audit the government recently announced it would carry out into how many women in England had suffered complications as a result of the implants.
Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said the statistics had been collected to provide the NHS with a “clearer national picture” of the use of meshes in England.
He said: “Given the importance of this issue, I have asked the chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, to seek the views of relevant NHS bodies, surgical societies, and patient groups on the implications of the statistics, and report back to me within a month.”
It is estimated more than 100,000 UK women have had a mesh fitted.
Most of them suffer no ill effects, NHS England has previously said.
And draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence say the implants should be used only for research – and not routine operations.
A campaign group accused the government of “selectively” using figures to make vaginal mesh look “low risk” by not including data on procedures done privately.
Kath Sansom, founder of Sling The Mesh, said: “It has not included private patients or women going to GPs for pain medication or antibiotics to treat painful urinary infections, so there are thousands not included in this data.
“This audit has no information on the devastating social and psychological impact on women.
“We demand a national recall urgently before hundreds more women are maimed by mesh.”
Figures were also provided for vaginal tape implants – a smaller device made from the same material, which is used to stem the flow of urine from a leaking bladder and is generally considered by experts to have a much lower risk of complications.
The data shows 100,516 patients have had a tape insertion procedure since 2008 and 2,639 have had removals of it in that time.