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

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Media captionOver 900 Welsh women have had implants replaced or are awaiting treatment

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.

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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