NORTH Yorkshire health chiefs responded this week to the controversy over faulty breast implants, saying they would replace NHS implants for free and offer support to women who had private surgery.
However, they stopped short of offering routine replacement of all privately-done implants, saying each case would be assessed individually, and remove implants only when advised by GPs that it was clinically appropriate.
The local reaction mirrors the NHS position nationally. Women affected by the faulty implants - made by French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) - have been told they do qualify for state treatment.
Medical director of NHS North Yorkshire and York, Dr David Geddes, said: “If you decide you want your implants replaced, the NHS will do it for free if your original operation was done on the NHS.
“If your private clinic no longer exists or refuses to remove your PIP implants, speak to your GP.”
He said women who received implants privately might be referred by their GP for examination in hospital to assess whether the implant had ruptured and needed to be removed.
It is unclear whether private patients who seek NHS assistance to have implants removed will then have to go elsewhere for replacement and fund it themselves.
Several private providers in the district have thrown their own weight behind the response, pledging to offer free replacements to their patients.
Executive director of BMI Duchy Hospital, Marge Falconer said: “We believe patients should not be left worrying about a real or perceived risk.
“We have therefore decided that all patients who paid BMI Healthcare for their PIP implant surgery who wish to have their PIP implants removed and replaced will be able to do so, at no cost.”
She said BMI Healthcare had used a relatively small number of the implants and none had been used at the Duchy Hospital, but that BMI would be providing a fixed-price to other providers to help them help patients who wanted their implants removed and replaced.
Cosmetic surgery company, Make Yourself Amazing (MYA), which has a branch in Harrogate, also responded to the controversy over PIP implants said it would remove its own patient’s PIP implants and replace them free of charge adding that organisations that don’t offer the same support of their patients are giving the cosmetic surgery industry a bad name.
MYA chairman Jon Ryan said: “By not offering this free service they are putting patients in a difficult position.