The UK government is considering creating a compulsory medical device register, which could register every implantable device in every patient so that healthcare professionals will be able to tell if a medical device is causing harm to a patient.
Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price revealed the plans during a short parliamentary debate last week when she was asked to respond to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Implant Files investigation by introducing a compulsory medical device register.
She said: “This is a matter already under consideration by the Department [of Health and Social Care], and it’s linked to our wider digitisation of agenda for the NHS. We have the technology, so we should use it in the interests of patient safety.”
The MPs were speaking during a medical device regulation debate called by Labour Party MP Owen Smith, who is a leading campaigner for women whose health has been negatively impacted by vaginal mesh implants.
At the start of the debate, Smith said: “My principal point this evening is that the regulatory system that we have for medical devices in our country and across Europe, and arguably across the wider world, is simply not fit for purpose and must be properly reformed.”
Last year, the ICIJ, in coordination with the British Medical Journal and various media outlets, carried out an investigation that found that unsafe medical devices have been implanted in patients and have already caused great harm to many.
The probe found that pacemakers, artificial knees, hips and rods to support the spinal cord are among the faulty devices, which have been implanted in patients. It also found that some of these unsafe devices had not even completed patient trials before their commercial launch.
The Royal College of Surgeons has also called for a medical device register to be created with its president Professor Derek Alderson telling the BBC in November last year: “All implantable devices should be registered and tracked to monitor efficacy and patient safety in the long-term.”
German health ministers proposed a similar register at the start of this year as they were also promoted by the ICIJ investigation.