Sunday 22 April 2018

Victims of faulty breast implants still waiting for government help

A nurse displays a cleaned defective silicone gel breast implant, manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese.
A nurse displays a cleaned defective silicone gel breast implant, manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese.

Fiona Ellis

Almost one-in-eight Irish women who received faulty breast implants containing industrial grade silicone have suffered ruptures.

And despite a government promise to help, none of the 1,550 women who received Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) breast implants -- filled with industrial grade silicone gel -- have had them removed under the public health system.

The founder of the French company behind the defective implants, Jean-Claude Mas, was last month sentenced to four years in prison for fraud.

But the nightmare still continues for the Irish women affected by the controversy.

The implants were filled with silicone gel more commonly used as a filling for sofas and are susceptible to rupture.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) confirmed that to date, they had received reports of 212 women who were diagnosed as experiencing either a single or a bilateral rupture.

Last year, the Department of Health said it would provide the necessary treatment for women affected.

The cost of scans and operations was to have come from the National Treatment Purchase Fund. However, the Department has confirmed no women have received treatment under the public health system and they had no figures on the number of women still waiting to have their implants removed.

"Along with other priorities, the issue of providing appropriate services to women affected by the PIP implant controversy is currently being considered by the HSE and the Department in the context of the 2014 Service Plan and other priority developments," a spokesperson said.


Advocacy group Patient Focus, who support a number of women affected by the faulty implants, expressed concern that funding to help the women affected was only "being considered".

"The first sentence is most concerning. I'm disappointed the wording is 'being considered' in the 2014 Service Plan," said Brigid Doherty, patient advocate at Patient Focus.

"I would have expected it would have been agreed already and the funding ring-fenced for the care package promised to have been included in the 2014 budget.

"It was originally to be part of the 2013 budget. The women have already been waiting a long time."

She called the delay in the Government providing care for the women affected "disappointingly slow" and said a number of women were out of pocket after paying for removal themselves.

"It is continuously running late. Many women have had the implants removed on health grounds, and not replaced, because they couldn't afford it. Some had them removed and replaced and quite a number are waiting and hoping the HSE will provide a package of care."

In October 2013 the European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks published its second comprehensive review of the implants.

The report states: "There is currently no convincing medical, toxicological or other data to justify removal of intact PIP implants as a precautionary approach.

The HSE directed queries regarding PIP implants to the Department of Health.

Irish Independent

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