PIP breast implants: £1.2m removal cost not being reclaimed in Wales

Over 900 Welsh women have had implants replaced or are awaiting treatment

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The £1.2m NHS cost of replacing faulty PIP breast implants fitted by private cosmetic surgery companies will not be reclaimed by the Welsh government.

It was not viable to recover the money spent removing and replacing the implants, the government said.

In 2012-13 £819,000 was paid out and a further £422,000 in 2013-14.

So far, 603 Welsh women have been referred for implant replacement, 300 have been treated and 48 are still awaiting surgery.

Rebecca Little, from Crosskeys, Caerphilly county

Rebecca Little

"I noticed in both of my breasts I had lumps. Unfortunately my left breast had a capsule contracture which is where the scar tissue pushes on to the implant and can deform the breast.

"Also, it had gone through my lymph node and every time I did any exercise my lymph node would swell up like a ball. It was very painful.

"After I had my PIP implants removed I found out that my left implant had a gel bleed in it. That's where the implant starts leaking out the substance inside it.

"It's the not knowing of what's going through your body and what difference it'll make long term.

"I still feel very annoyed and I have a lot of raw emotion. I feel like Westminster should have pushed the hands of these companies and they should have been held responsible for these ladies and removal and replacement.

"They had a moral and ethical obligation to help these women and I think they still do."

Watch the full interview

The implants, from French firm Poly Implant Prothese, were banned in 2011 after they were found to contain industrial grade silicone.

In January 2012, the French government urged 30,000 women to have their PIP implants removed following ruptures.

"We have investigated the possibility of seeking legal redress from the relevant private providers and found that legally this has proved to be not viable," a Welsh government spokesperson said.

"The costs which have been incurred have provided women affected by the PIP scandal with the necessary treatment to ensure their safety and well-being.

"All patients have been treated on the basis of clinical need."

Mark Harvey, from Hugh James solicitors, is representing around 1,000 women pursuing compensation claims.

He said that there was a legal loophole which means that many private companies did not have to pay to remove and replace the implants.

He added: "I don't wish to scaremonger, but at the moment nothing has changed so that this could all happen again tomorrow with another medical device.

"The system of maintenance inspections taking place in manufacturers hasn't changed.

"Surgeons and their clinics can practice without insurance; they can still fold themselves up the minute a claim comes their way.

"So my worry is, as things stand, nothing has changed from the 1990s and 2000s when this scandal arose and that's why the governments - of both England and Wales - need to block these loopholes as soon as possible."

The NHS is England will only pay for the removal of faulty PIP implants.

In 2012-13, 8,801 women were in contact with NHS trusts in England about their PIP implants.

Of those, 1,053 will have their implants removed by the NHS. 403 of these women had their implants put in by the NHS.

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