It has been confirmed to us by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) that some patients who had their surgeries organised through Advanced Cosmetic Surgery Ltd did in fact receive PIP breast implants. As in the case of The Hospital Group before this, the IMB has only confirmed this to be the case after we inquired on behalf of clients who suspected they may have received the problem implants.
The IMB maintains its official line that only patients of the Harley Medical Group, Clane Hospital and Shandon Street Hospital received PIP implants despite the obvious misunderstandings that arise because many patients contracted with a particular provider, e.g. Advanced Cosmetic Surgery or The Hospital Group, but were sent to Shandon Street Hospital for the surgical stage of the augmentation procedure.
Our request for a complete list of any cosmetic surgery providers whose patients may have received PIP implants appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The IMB have failed to address the request in our e-mails.
Meanwhile the IMB website has published its first news update on the situation in just under a month. The five-line update links to a report by the European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and concludes that results are uncertain. The recommendation by the IMB continues to be that patients should consult with their implanting surgeons on what action they should take.
This advice is of little comfort to women who have done just that, given the responses many have received. Clients have reported to us again and again statements by the surgeons involved that if they were to remove all the problem implants they would go bankrupt. The clear conflict of interest in such an arrangement makes the IMB recommendation seem slightly ridiculous.
To add to this there is the concern that clinics are cynically exploiting the duress many women find themselves under, financially and mentally, to insist that they sign comprehensive waivers and indemnities absolving the clinic for any injury or loss that may have resulted, or may result in the future from the faulty implants as is the case with The Hospital Group. If the implants are so benign why are they insisting that such weighty legal documents be signed prior to removal?
This behaviour would be objectionable enough if it was in return for a worry-free removal or replacement, but each of the women who report having had such an offer from the Hospital Group explain that they are required to travel to England for the surgery at their own expense. All of this after they are first required to establish that their implants are in fact ruptured, which again they must do without any assistance from the clinics, usually at a cost of between €200-€600.
The SCENIHR report referred to above is a 74-page document which requires a level of expertise to fully comprehend. It is written from a sceptical point of view which does not draw conclusions in the absence of proof as any scientific paper should be. However it is important to note that the report states that it is based on limited data because there is no representative PIP implant, the quality and ingredients of the implants varied over the 9-year period in which they were manufactured.
A different, more human, approach is necessary for the approximately 1,500 Irish women and reported 300,000 women worldwide who are aware that they have objects in their bodies that should not have been approved approved for such use. The position that there is no need to remedy their situation until it can be proven that they are at risk seems short sighted and does not take into consideration the stress and worry these women are suffering everyday as they try to figure out how and where they will have the implants removed.