Leading cosmetic surgery clinics refusing to fund faulty breast implant surgery scandal- could cost taxpayers £11 million bill
Ministers have agreed to pay for the removal of the French made PIP breat implants for women who had them on the NHS, and have called on private clinics to acknowledge their “moral duty” to offer the same service.Although the Department of Health said it would “pursue private clinics with all means at its disposal to avoid the taxpayer picking up the bill”, it confirmed on Friday night that it would help women if their clinic was no longer in operation or refused to care for them.
Officials say the implants – thought to have been fitted in some 52,000 women who wanted larger breasts for cosmetic reasons or after cancer surgery – only need to be replaced if they have ruptured but will also carry out the procedure if the patients are worried about them.
Most independent providers have agreed to provide free surgery for their patients who received implants made by the now-defunct Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) – which were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses – at least one is holding out while another has so far refused to reveal its policy.
Transform Cosmetic Surgery said the Government needed to “accept its responsibility” for the problem as the implants had been approved for use by a watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Transform carries out 6,000 breast augmentation procedures a year, and estimates it has fitted some 4,000 women with PIP implants in recent years.
The clinic is currently refusing to pay for them to be removed and replaced and is charging women £2,800 per procedure, although it insists most implants are not at risk of malfunctioning. Some patients have already been booked in for the operation.
It said it would review its stance this week, but if it remains unchanged it could mean the Government has to step in and pay for these women’s operations, at a cost of up to £11.2m.
Nigel Robertson, the chief executive of Transform Cosmetic Surgery, said in a statement: “Transform is fully committed to supporting the Department of Health in its efforts to end the uncertainty and anxiety of British women affected by the PIP situation and awaits a response to its request for an urgent meeting to discuss the way forward.
“It is important to recognise that this crisis is the result of failed regulation of breast implants, which were approved for use. The Government needs to accept its responsibility for this situation and work constructively with us to find a workable solution.”
The other major clinic yet to announce its decision is The Hospital Group.
It is telling patients there is “no evidence to suggest routine removal” of PIP implants but will replace those that have already ruptured “free of charge”.
Other leading providers including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Spire have agreed to offer free removal of the PIP implants.
Michelle Victor, a solicitor at Leigh Day & Co, said the firm had already been contacted by women seeking help to make private clinics pay for the replacement of their PIP implants.
She said that although the clinics themselves were not responsible for making them, the implants were “not fit for purpose” and so cosmetic surgery groups should remove them.
Tags: cosmetic surgery, Doctors, Health, health insurance, Health Professionals, Patients' Association, preventable crisis, private health, wellbeing