In the UK the ongoing PIP substandard breast implant saga is still unfolding. PIP breast implants were made by a French company which is no longer trading. The company was not allowed a license in the US and it seems there were warning signs out there for some time.
Some breast implants have ruptured and the problem for the patients involved is that they contained industrial grade silicone which should never be used in implants of this kind. The problems have arisen from the necessity to remove these implants. Some EU countries have simply recommended the removal of such implants from patient's bodies.
In the UK the problem has been about who should foot the bill?
Patients who received these implants via the NHS will have the surgery for the implant removals paid for by the taxpayer, that is by the NHS. Remember that not all implants will have been purely cosmetic. Some will have been as part of reconstructive surgery after an illness, such as cancer.
Patients who have had the implants fitted by a private healthcare provider may not fare so well. Whilst some of these private health care providers have already agreed to foot the bill not all have. Today, January 11, 2012, Harley Medical Group have said that they will not replace the implants free of charge. This group fitted more PIP breast implants than any other UK source. Harley has said that to replace all of their implants for free would effectively put them out of business.
The UK government insists that private health care agencies has a moral duty to remove these implants. For non NHS patients who are left high and dry the NHS will step in,at least partly. If private health care providers refuse to remove the implants the NHS will pay to remove them. This will be in the case of clinics that are no longer in business plus if the private clinic refuses to fulfill its obligations.
For many the rub is having the implants REPLACED rather than just removed.
OPINION: During the last few days the media has reported on the plight of these women. We have seen more than one distraught woman on UK TV news explaining their fears. They have all stressed how the thought of the industrial grade silicone being in their bodies terrifies them.
So why would you want to replace them straight away. Surely the thought of any such silicone implants being in your body is worrying. It is easy to see why women are pushing to have the dodgy implants removed but surely it should be lesson learned. No more potential life threatening implants. After all any such implant must carry some health risks?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog