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Lessons to be learned from a sorry situation
Should private medical companies replace dangerous breast implants for free? Some private firms have ignored a call for them to take out PIP implants at no charge.
They argue the Government and the medical watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency are at fault for allowing the cut-price implants to be sold in the UK.
It's not their fault that they used them and they say that replacing them with more expensive implants would financially ruin them.
Are they right to refuse? Well, morally, no. They carried out the work so they should be responsible if it goes wrong later, surely?
Private firms such as Nuffield, Spire Healthcare and BMI have followed the call from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to replace the implants.
But bosses at the firms that have refused would say they were running a business, not a church. They did not manufacture the implants and they did not pass them as safe to use in surgery.
So should it be left to the NHS to replace them at a cost of tens of millions of pounds to the taxpayer?
Well, as a last resort, it has a duty to.
The Welsh government has said it would pay to remove and replace banned breast implants from women who were treated privately.
Welsh health minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: "Removing the implants and not replacing them could result in unsightly scarring, loose skin, and potentially the accumulation of fluids, need for drainage, and risk of infection."
The NHS will pay to remove, but not replace, implants if a private clinic refuses or no longer exists. Which is not enough.
One estimate claims that about 50,000 implants are involved (some cosmetic, some reconstructive), which could cost the NHS as much as ВЈ150m.
What this whole sorry, scary mess has shown is that there is a shocking lack of governance and regulation on the issue.
There needs to be stricter controls over what can be used in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
There has to be clear and cast-iron responsibility for the work carried out.
But also, any woman undertaking a breast implant for whatever reason must be properly informed that they don't last forever, that they will need replacing and that there is always risk of rupture, however slight.