A COSMETIC SURGERY clinic has been strongly criticised for refusing an invitation to a meeting discussing the PIP breast implant scandal.
Harley Medical Group was criticised by the government’s Joint Committee on Health and Children for refusing the invitation to attend the committee’s most recent meeting on the implant scandal, in which more than a thousand women were given implants filled with non-medical grade silicone.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, the Chairman of the Joint Committee, Jerry Buttimer TD, said the committee was “extremely disappointed” that the Harley Medical Group refused the invitation.
While we received a less than satisfactory statement from the Group, we wanted to explore with them the reasons for their refusal to replace these sub-standard implants in all their Irish patients at no charge.
It shows a blatant disregard to the duty of care the Group has for its patients and quite frankly it’s not good enough.
He said the committee would urge the Minister for Health to pursue the Harley Medical Group, ”nationally, internationally or through the courts if necessary, to recoup the full costs associated with the procedures”.
We are also urging the Minister to seek clarification from the company responsible for granting the quality mark to the product, as to their procedures and liability cover in respect of quality assurance.
Deputy Buttimer said: “It is completely unsatisfactory that private operators can come into this country, perform procedures and then abdicate their responsibilities when it suits them.”
The committee is now calling on the Minister to bring forward legislation which will fully regulate the cosmetic surgery industry “so we can ensure the health of Irish patients is sacrosanct over profit”, said Deputy Buttimer.
The implants were manufactured by the company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) and the situation came to light in March 2010 when the French medical device regulatory authority suspended the manufacturing and distribution of the PIP products. The agency had discovered that unauthorised, industrial-quality silicone gel had been used instead of medical-grade substances.
There were reports of the implants rupturing or leaking, with 138 of those reports coming from Ireland.
Three clinics in Ireland – the Harley Medical Clinic in Dublin, Clane General Hospital in Kildare and Shandon Street Hospital in Cork – had implanted the devices into some 1,500 patients between 2001 and 2010. In November 2010, the Irish Medicines Board instructed those clinics to identify and contact women who had received PIP implants to advise them of the issue.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health said it is not satisfied that the Harley Medical Group will fulfill its obligations to patients “in an acceptable manner”.
As a result of this, Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer announced that services, including surgical consultation, radiology (if required) and removal of implants (if deemed clinically necessary) will be sourced via the National Treatment Purchase Fund.