Scottish PIP breast implant patients demand wider government help

Scottish patients are accusing U.K. and Scottish health officials of not going far enough to help patients deal with the fallout in a scandal over substandard breast implants.

The Scotsman reports that hundreds of Scottish women are lobbying health officials to both remove the suspect implants and offer reconstructive surgery rather than just the first option. As the story notes, patients are complaining that health officials are judging them for having implants for cosmetic reasons in the first place, which they say may be affecting the decision to not offer wider recourse.

Health Secretary Alex Neil met with the group, which urged him to offer the expanded coverage.

The now-defunct French implantmaker Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) sparked the scandal in Europe and around the world back in 2011, after admitting it had sold breast implants with substandard silicone for years. That practice led to thousands of ruptures, spurred a fraud trial in France involving the failed company's former leadership, and pushed European Union regulators to toughen medical device regulatory standards. Thousands of women had the implants removed or replaced as a precaution, but each country has offered a different response to the crisis.

In the U.K., Wales' government is now offering affected patients surgery to remove the implants as well as replacement surgery. The issue in Scotland may be more complex, however. According to the article, about 4,000 women in Scotland received the PIP implants. But private-sector providers performed the surgeries, forcing the National Health Service to step in and offer removal surgery where private firms are either unwilling or unable to do so. The National Health Service isn't covering replacement implants in England, either, the story explains.

Current NHS policy is to replace the implants only if there is a medical need.

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