James Shaw's announcement that a "meaningful and sincere" Government apology to patients injured by surgical mesh is coming has been hailed by advocates as a sign of real progress.
The Acting Associate Health Minister told Stuff last week: "I expect to get advice back about what would be the most meaningful and sincere way for the Government to apologise."
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Co-leader of patient advocacy group Mesh Down Under Charlotte Korte says the group is "pleased that they [the Government] are finally accepting some accountability for allowing this awful medical disaster to continue".
"We are really thankful to James Shaw for stepping up on behalf of the Government, in essence, to stand up and say we're sorry we got this wrong and we should have acted sooner," she said.
But Mesh Down Under also thinks New Zealand is "lagging behind".
The Australian Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt apologised to Australian women affected by mesh complications last week, saying: "On behalf of the Australian Government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which has led to horrific outcomes".
The Australian apology comes as the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last week published a series of scathing reports on the topic, saying that mesh manufacturers "aggressively hustled" the products into circulation and that regulators approved them on "the flimsiest of evidence".
Mesh Down Under's Patricia Sullivan said: "For such a well-respected organisation within the medical profession to voice their condemnation of surgical mesh and initiate this investigation, this is extraordinary. What they unearthed is appalling."
Another Mesh Down Under spokesperson Carmel Berry said the New Zealand Government would be enabling patients to find out the true medical and social impact of mesh injuries.
"This is good, but it is not only women that are affected with surgical mesh complications and this all-inclusiveness is what we have been asking for since 2012," she added.
Mesh Down Under will be meeting with the Ministry of Health this week to discuss the next steps for arranging the forums.