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Almost 8,000 women with PiP breast implants seek NHS help

Over 400 women have had private prostheses removed on the NHS

Mark Gould

Monday, 24 December 2012

Almost 8,000 women, who had controversial PiP breast implants put in privately, have turned to the NHS for help including over 400 women who have had the prostheses removed.

It is almost 12 months since it emerged that there were concerns that PiP implants had a higher rupture rate that other prostheses and were made with substandard industrial grade silicone gel which may pose a health risk.

The NHS stepped in when it became apparent that some private clinics wouldn’t support their patients or had collapsed so women had no way of getting help. Worried women were offered the opportunity to have a consultation, a scan and, if agreed it would be the best thing for their health, the NHS would remove the implants.

As well as offering support from the NHS, the Health Secretary ordered a review to look at the safety of the implants, led by the NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The latest figures show that, up to 30th November:

  • A total of 7,917 referrals have been received from women who had their implants put in privately.
  • Of these, 5,255 scans have now been completed;
  • 633 have decided to have their implants removed on the NHS – 418 operations have been done; and
  • 4,328 women require no further help from the NHS at this time.

Sir Bruce’s expert panel collected and reviewed all available data including estimated rupture rates, data on clinical findings when implants are removed, and further examination of the chemical make up of PiP silicone gel.

The expert group has studied information on 240,000 implants of different makes used throughout England which have been given to 130,000 women, along with detailed findings from 5,600 removal operations. The group concluded that while the prostheses do have a higher rupture rate the silicone contained in them does not pose a long-term risk to health.

In addition, to support women affected by the scare, the Government:

  • Launched a major review of the cosmetic surgery industry which is looking at many issues including whether the right amount of regulation is in place, if people have the right amount of information before going through with surgery and how to make sure patients get the right aftercare. The review team will publish its report in March.
  • Launched a review, led by Health Minister Lord Howe, to look at whether the Department of Health and the regulator (the MHRA) acted appropriately when it found out about the problems with PiP breast implants. The report can be found here.
  • Is in discussion with the European Union about revising and amending regulations and legislation for medical devices, including implants. The Member States are already implementing a voluntary programme of action, in light of lessons learnt from the events involving fraudulent PiP breast implants.
  • Regularly publishes statistics to show how the NHS is helping women affected by the scare. The latest statistics can be found here.

Health Minister, Lord Howe said:

“It has been a worrying year for women affected by the PiP scare. It has been our number one priority since this issue came to light 12 months ago to make sure women have been kept well informed and received the appropriate clinical advice and care.

“I hope it is a small comfort to women and their families to learn that the experts examined all the available evidence and concluded that the silicone contained in PiP breast implants does not pose a risk to human health.

“We want to do everything we can to prevent anything like this happening again. We can’t stop someone in another country committing a crime – as happened in this case – but we can make sure that people are properly supported and that they get all the information they need before deciding to have cosmetic surgery.”

The Department will continue to collate and publish data on the number of women who have received a PiP breast implant from either the NHS or the private sector.

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