‘Low health risk’ verdict on PIP implants disputed by campaigners

Implant victim Jenny Brown compares a ruptured PIP implant with one intact. Picture: Robert Perry
Implant victim Jenny Brown compares a ruptured PIP implant with one intact. Picture: Robert Perry
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WOMEN campaigning for answers about PIP implants have condemned a government report which says they do not present a significant health risk.

About 47,000 women in Britain are believed to have the French manufactured implants which are made of non-medical silicone and which have been shown to be twice as likely to rupture as other implants.

Scottish campaigners believe there should be a public inquiry into the issue – despite an NHS medical directors group report which said ruptured implants do not cause any long-term health problems. An estimated 4,000 women in Scotland may have been given the implants by private companies.

Trisha Devine, spokeswoman for campaign group PIP Implants Scotland, said: “The conclusions in today’s report were disappointingly predictable.

“We thought the rupture rate would be higher than officials expected, and we were hoping for a fresh insight into the scandal. Instead we get a rehashed version of the previous Government report which does little to calm the fears of the victims.

“The report states that the implants are defective and says they're likely to rupture, spilling industrial silicone into our bodies. How are those of us with PIP implants supposed to feel about that? Does the government expect us to be relieved?”

Ms Devine, 34, from Bannockburn, Stirling, paid £4,000 for her cosmetic implants through private health company Transform Medical Group, in 2004.

She pressed the case for a public inquiry in Scotland with health secretary Nicola Sturgeon earlier this month.

The expert group, led by NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, found that after ten years the PIP implants have a 15 to 30 per cent chance of rupturing. Other breast implant brands have a 10 to 14 per cent rupture rate in the same timeframe.

Ruptured PIP implants have caused local reactions in a small proportion of women which can result in symptoms such as tenderness or swollen lymph glands, according to the report.

The implants also contain the chemical compound siloxane, which is chemically similar to silicone and is found in many consumer products including hair and skin products, anti-perspirants and deodorants.

The chemical does not present a health risk, the experts said.

Patrick McGuire, of Thompsons Solicitors, which backed the campaign group’s call for a Scottish inquiry, said: “The government appears to be satisfied with a sub-standard medical product that’s been shown to rupture and leak mattress silicone into women’s bodies.

“That they are not issuing an immediate removal and replacement policy to all healthcare providers following today’s report is alarming to say the least.

“If we can take anything from today’s report it’s that we need a more in-depth examination of the medical effects of PIP implant rupture.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome this report and would encourage all healthcare providers to note the findings, and to continue to provide the appropriate healthcare package for their patients.

“NHS Scotland will support any woman whose healthcare provider is no longer operating or is unable to offer the appropriate care.”

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons’ head of professional standards, Tim Goodacre, said: “Critically, we now need to focus on preventing this from happening again and to ask why these high rupture rates were unknown until now.”