'Transform' refuse to offer women implant replacements


A leading cosmetic surgery firm is refusing to offer women with PIP breast implants free removal and replacement.

Transform has said it is reviewing its options but, as it stands, women will have to pay £2,800 to have the implants removed.

It follows an announcement from the Government on Friday that anxious patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have the implants removed and replaced free of charge.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he expects private clinics to offer the same deal to their patients.

Around 40,000 British women have 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.

A spokeswoman for Transform, which has just over 4,000 patients in the UK with PIP implants, said: “Currently, Transform patients will have to pay to have a removal and re-operation.”

She said the firm was reviewing all its options and was making “no commercial gain” from charging women £2,800 to have the implants removed.

The Harley Medical Group, which has 13,900 patients with PIP implants, will issue a statement later today.

At the weekend, its chairman Mel Braham said he will pay for the cost of new implants, but only if the NHS does the surgery.

He said the Government was responsible for the situation and could do the operations because it had hospitals “at its fingertips”.

The Hospital Group has said it will only pay to replace PIP implants that have ruptured.

On its website, the group cites the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's position that there is no evidence to support routine removal of the implants.

This is also the Government's view, however its experts concluded that it cannot be ruled out that some of the implants are toxic.

The expert review panel also said the anxiety caused to women is a health condition in itself.

The Hospital Group's website tells patients “to ask your GP to refer you for an MRI scan.

“We are happy to have a look at the report and assess that for you.

“We are replacing all ruptured PIP implants free of charge.”

Ramsay Health Care, which has around 150 patients with PIP implants, said it was offering concerned women the chance to be examined and, if there is a rupture or clinical need, the implants would be removed and replaced free of charge.

Other leading providers including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Spire have agreed to offer free removal of the PIP implants.

The Government has said women who are refused help by private clinics will be able to have the implants removed on the NHS following consultation with their doctor.

It has said it intends to pursue clinics to avoid the taxpayer picking up the bill.

Personal injury firm Thompsons Solicitors said that companies who offered the implants could have a duty to pay compensation to those affected under consumer protection legislation.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 offers consumers a series of legal rights, one of which is that with the sale of goods the item must be of satisfactory quality.

It is today launching a free advice line to anyone worried about PIP implants, which will give people access to free legal advice and assistance with taking forward any compensation claims.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Private providers have legal obligations to their patients. The NHS will offer a package of care for its patients, and we expect the private sector to do the same.”

The expert group behind the review concluded there is no link between the implants and cancer, as reported in one French case.

But it said it was “undeniably the case” that the implants are made up of non-medical grade silicone and should not have been implanted in women in the first place.

The expert group was unable to establish if the rupture rate is higher for PIP implants than for others.

But it could not be confident that PIP did not change the silicone in the implants, so could not rule out the possibility that some are toxic.

In France, the government has told 30,000 women they should have the implants removed while the Czech and German authorities have recommended that women should also have them taken out.

Nigel Robertson, chief executive of Transform Cosmetic Surgery, said: “Transform is fully committed to supporting the Department of Health in its efforts to end the uncertainty and anxiety of British women affected by the PIP situation and awaits a response to its request for an urgent meeting to discuss the way forward.

“It is important to recognise that this crisis is the result of failed regulation of breast implants, which were approved for use.

“The Government needs to accept its responsibility for this situation and work constructively with us to find a workable solution.”