While it’s difficult to fathom how the health authorities on the mainland of Europe have managed to arrive at such a fundamentally different decision to their counterparts in Britain and Ireland as to what advice to provide to women affected by the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) implant scandal, the most recent development in this sorry saga is truly stupefying.
Just days ago the UK government confirmed that it had taken the view that the implants – which have been implanted in 40,000 women in Great Britain – did not require routine removal. It followed that the NHS would only pay for removal and replacement in women who had undergone surgery in public hospitals, with women who had undergone the original procedure in private clinics being entitled to removal only.
Now the Welsh government (yes, I said Welsh, as in one of the countries making up the United Kingdom) has announced that it will offer replacement breast implants on the NHS to all women who received the banned PIP implants, including those who were treated privately.
Previously the Welsh authorities had made it clear that they would pay for removal and replacement of implants for NHS patients deemed in clinical need, but would only cover the cost of removal for those women who were treated privately.
Welsh Government Health Minister Lesley Griffiths today admitted that removing the implants and not replacing them could result in “unsightly scarring, loose skin, and potentially the accumulation of fluids, need for drainage, and risk of infection.”
Women seeking the surgery will need to prove that they called upon their private provider to perform the procedure and were declined, that they are resident in Wales, and that they are registered with a Welsh GP.
That women affected by the scandal are being so arbitrarily discriminated against on the basis of post codes is verging on the grotesque.
Minister Griffiths went on to make it clear that she felt that the private sector should ultimately be held to account. In saying this she is absolutely right: those unscrupulous clinics that used these inferior products to maximize their profits at the expense of their unwitting patients’ health and safety should be forced to carry the can for this debacle.
That said, going after the wrongdoers is a matter for another day. The first priority should be to ensure that women who need medical intervention to avoid needless exposure to risk receive it without delay.
If the views expressed by the women who have been in contact with us are in any way representative of the 1,500 Irish patients who are affected, an overwhelming majority of those implicated in the PIP recall are adamant that they want to have these implants removed as a matter of urgency, irrespective of whether or not the implants have ruptured or they are exhibiting symptoms of any kind.
The Irish health authorities should now follow the Welsh lead and ensure that affected women receive the appropriate treatment.
When this is done they should relentlessly pursue those who profited from the scam to ensure that the taxpayer doesn’t end up at a loss.
John McCarthy presently acts for clients nationwide in pursuing compensation for the injuries which they have sustained from defective medical devices.
If you have been affected by the PIP recall or you believe that you have been the victim of negligent cosmetic surgery and you would like to arrange a free initial consultation with John, feel free to call him on 023 883 3348023 883 3348 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case in complete confidence and without commitment.