WOMEN caught up in the PIP faulty implants scandal are paying for operations to have them removed while the Government drags its heels on a promise to help them.
Health Minister James Reilly said in July that the State would pay for scans and operations for women whose cosmetic surgery clinics have failed to care for them.
Around 1,500 Irish women have been caught up in the scandal, which came to light more than two-and-a-half years ago.
Nearly 140 have experienced ruptures in their implants, causing industrial-grade silicon more usually used to stuff mattresses to leak into their bodies.
The State was to claw back the cost of surgical consultations, radiology services and, where necessary, the removal of the implants from the clinics.
However, the Department of Health has confirmed that not one cent has been given to the women.
Sarita Clery, of the PIP Action Group, said that in the face of government delays women have had to cover the cost of their own operations.
"We haven't been told what the delay is – we're not privy to any information. We've had to have our own operations and pay for them," she said.
The department said the "logistical, clinical and communication approaches to ensure a standardised pathway of care are to be finalised before the end of 2012".
Ms Clery said women have now turned to advocacy organisation Patient Focus to fight their corner.
"We decided to leave it to the department and Patient Focus because we had to look after ourselves," she said.
Between 2001 and 2010, PIP implants were fitted by the Harley Medical Group, Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and Clane Hospital in Co Kildare.
Many of the women who attended Clane Hospital or the Shandon Clinic have had the implants removed and others have paid for the procedure.
However, the department said difficulties have arisen for patients of the Harley Medical Group, which fitted implants for 1,159 women.
Dr Reilly said last summer that the State would help those who were treated by the Harley Medical Group as it had "failed to provide an appropriate care package".
"The department is not satisfied that the Harley Medical Group will fulfil their obligations," he said at the time.
The cost of scans and operations was to have been met through the National Purchase Treatment Fund.