The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced yesterday that a further 7000 women should be added to the list of 40,000 women who are already known to be victims of the PIP breast implant scandal in the UK.
It was thought that only PIP implants fitted from 2001 onwards were suspect, but new evidence has emerged to suggest that implants manufactured before 2001 may also contain dangerous industrial grade silicone gel.
Following investigations by the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the French authorities have now admitted that pre-2001 implants may also contain silicone gel that was intended for use in mattresses.
Speaking on Channel 4 news last night, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said that women who had PIP implants pre-2001 could also be affected, “it might be fine, but they don’t know.”
Mark Harvey, Partner of Hugh James, was also interviewed and said he wasn’t surprised by this latest news given the conspicuous lack of “concrete data” so far offered up by the French Health authorities, the licensing health authorities and the private clinics involved.
It is important to stress however that not all of those 7000 women will still have the PIP implants because 1 in 5 breast implants are replaced within the first 10 years anyway regardless of the brand.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director and head of an independent group of experts, continues to advise that the routine removal of PIP implants is unnecessary. However, if you are concerned and especially if you are experiencing pain or tenderness, you should consult your GP or surgeon.
The Department of Health is advising women with implants to find out if they have PIPs in the first instance via their clinic or GP. Once they have confirmation that they have been fitted with PIP implants they should speak to their GP or surgeon and then take advice on the best course of action.
The NHS will support removal if, after consultations with their GP or surgeon, the patient is still concerned and with their doctor decides that it is the right thing to do. In such cases the NHS will remove the implants but will only replace them if the original operation was performed by the NHS. If the original operation was arranged through a private clinic then patients will need to speak to the clinic concerned to see if they will replace them free of charge.
According to a report published on their website yesterday, the Department of Health says it expects private clinics to provide proper after-care to all their patients. Where a clinic no longer exists or where they refuse to help, the NHS will arrange scans, provide advice and support the removal of PIP implants where it is deemed clinically necessary. Professor Dame Sally Davies has written a letter of all GPs asking them to do more to help women affected by the PIP scandal. Adverts will be placed in the newspapers this weekend to tell women with PIP implants about the advice from the experts and how they can get help if they are worried.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley expressed regret at the increased number of women affected by the “criminal activity” of the French breast implant manufacturer and said he was aware of the “huge amount of anxiety” the situation is causing. He reassures women that the government “are still working to get private clinics to live up to their responsibilities and look after their patients.” He said they would continue “to press for the same standard of care or redress from private providers.”
Partner Samantha Robson and head of the PIP team at Slee Blackwell says: “The legal landscape with the PIP cases is constantly changing. An application for a Group Litigation Order has now been made to the Court and the outcome is awaited. Responses to our letters of claim sent to the various clinics involved are flowing in. There are a wide range of legal issues being raised by this litigation, including the Sale of Goods Act, Consumer Protection legislation and the Consumer Credit Act. Many of these clinics are in administration and there are clauses in their insurance arrangements which enable the insurers to avoid paying out in these PIP claims. The industry seems to be entirely unregulated and it is unbelievable that this situation had persisted for so long”.
Sam goes on to say: “The way in which these clinics continue to treat clients is incredible. We have situations where clients have paid further money for the replacement surgery and they have then been sent a disclaimer to sign to waive their rights to bring a legal claim. This is after the monies have been cleared and paid. They are then being told if they cancel their surgery they will still have to pay. Something must be done to deal with this situation as women are continuing to be let down by these clinics, it cannot continue.”
Sam reiterates that, “here at Slee Blackwell we are continuing to advise clients daily on a no win no fee basis and, distinct from other firms, we are offering genuine no fee arrangements and we are not pursuing clients for any shortfall in costs if we win and we are not charging clients for disbursements”.
Should you need legal advice about your PIP claim on a free no obligation basis, please complete our contact form or call us on freephone 0808 1391592.