Implant workload falls onto NHS as clinics fail to help

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More than 2,800 women who had PIP breast implants at private clinics have been referred for care on the NHS, figures show.

Those sent to the NHS for scans and potential implant removal come from a number of firms, including Transform and the Harley Medical Group, according to Department of Health data.

So far, 2,860 private patients have been referred by their GP for care on the NHS because clinics have failed to help, or have closed.

The Government has said it will provide free care to these women but plans to recover costs from private clinics.

Earlier this week, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) warned that some private clinics are claiming they do not have “the skills” to treat patients with ruptured PIP implants.

BAAPS said too many clinics were referring patients to the NHS in what could be a “cost-containment” move, and argued surgeons should be able to deal with patients themselves.

The latest data shows that 477 patients who received implants from the Harley Medical Group are being cared for on the NHS, beside 91 from Transform.

A further 2,292 are so far classed as “other” private patients, although the Department of Health said these may emerge in later weeks to be Harley Medical Group or Transform patients.

Of the 2,860 referrals to the NHS, more than 1,100 scans have now been completed, of which 324 were performed in the last week.

So far, 67 women have opted for removal, of which 12 have already undergone surgery. Overall, 522 women have had some sort of NHS care to date, according to the data from 115 NHS trusts.

Transform initially refused to remove implants for free but then performed a U-turn last month.

It said patients who have had PIP implants put in since January 1 2001 will be offered free removal and the company will also offer free scans.

Any patient wishing to have their implants replaced, whether ruptured or not, will have to pay £2,500.

Health Minister, Anne Milton, said: “Most patients who have been forced to get help from the NHS because their private clinic has refused to support them seem, so far, to be choosing not to have their implants removed.

“This appears to show that these women are getting the reassurance they need from speaking to an expert or having a scan.

“All but one of the NHS hospitals that used PIP implants have been able to contact all their patients. They have been offered a consultation with a specialist.

She added: “The expert group does not believe there is enough evidence to advise women to have their implants removed.”