Saturday 14 January 2012

National Press Advertising Campaign - PIP Breast Implants

The Government will run a national press advertising campaign this weekend advising women what to do if they have PIP breast implants.

Adverts will appear in national newspapers followed by websites from Monday, while GP surgeries and other parts of the NHS will be urged to display the adverts.

The advice reiterates the Government's view that there is no evidence to support routine removal of the implants unless women have symptoms such as pain and tenderness.

It stresses that experts have found no link with cancer and there is no clear evidence of an increased risk of harm compared to other brands of breast implants.

Around 40,000 women in the UK received PIP implants manufactured by the now closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).

The implants were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.

The adverts tell women to find out if they have PIP implants by checking their medical notes free of charge.
Those women who had them on the NHS - around 5% of the total - will receive a letter in the next few weeks.
All women are urged to speak to their GP or surgeon, whether they had the operation on the NHS or privately.

The adverts say patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have the implants removed and replaced free of charge.

Women who had the implants done privately will need to speak to their clinic to see if they will also replace them for free.

If a private clinic refuses to do so or no longer exists, the NHS will also pay to remove, but not replace, those implants if the woman's GP agrees and there is clinical need.

Clinical need may include a patient who is extremely anxious about the implants, or if there is a medical reason.
Earlier this week, Harley Medical Group, which fitted PIP breast implants to almost 14,000 British women, said it will not replace them free of charge.

The firm fitted more of the implants than any other UK cosmetic surgery firm but claims replacing the banned implants would put it out of business.

Another private company, Transform, has also said it will not replace the implants for free.

Other providers, including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Spire, have agreed to free removal.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "My aim throughout this situation has been to protect the health of women with PIP implants.

"The refusal of some clinics to help their patients has left some of those women worried and confused.

"That's why we are running this ad campaign, to give women clear, definitive advice about what course of action they should take. I hope it helps women decide what is best for them.

"We have made it very clear to private companies what we expect of them - to provide their patients with the aftercare that they need and deserve.

"I do not think it is fair to the taxpayer or other NHS patients for the NHS to foot the bill.

"We will pursue private clinics with all means at our disposal to avoid this."

Yesterday, the trade body representing private clinics claimed women are more "confused and anxious" than ever following Government advice.

Sally Taber, director of the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS), said providers were affected by a "failure" of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to detect the faulty implants.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said it believes the implants should be removed as a precaution.

A poll of 230 of its members found 95% agree it should be private clinics and hospitals that should pay for replacement surgery for private patients, rather than the taxpayer.

BAAPS president Fazel Fatah said: "We remain steadfast in our recommendation to the public of precautionary removal of these defective devices.

"Although there is no immediate health risk, the gel within these implants is simply not meant to be inside the human body.

"It does not surprise me that our membership agrees that the NHS and therefore the taxpayer should not be burdened with the cost of these operations.

"There are a few clinics that continue to refuse to assist their patients but they do not encompass the whole of the private sector - they represent a disappointing and increasingly isolated element still not putting patients' peace of mind and therefore quality of life ahead of commercial considerations."

BAAPS has issued a directive to all its members who may have used PIP implants to replace them for free.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director and leader of the expert group on PIP implants, said: "At present there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine removal of these implants.

"But I know women will be worried. That's why the expert group supports the NHS offer and believes the private industry should do the same."

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