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“Let’s end the questions and get some answers” that’s the message the Scottish victims of the PiP breast implant scandal sent the Scottish Government today as they called for them to set up a Public Inquiry into the scandal.  

At a press conference held at Thompsons Solicitors, they set out a series of questions relating to the scandal itself and the licensing of medical devices.

The call follows a number of high profile medical device scandals including PiP implants and defective metal on metal hip implants which have caused considerable harm and distress to thousands of Scots.  In a statement made at the conference, spokeswoman for the PiP Implants Scotland Campaign Group, Trisha Devine said:

 “I think I speak for every woman going through this nightmare when I say that since I found out about this in December my life has been turned upside down.

Not a moment goes by when I don’t worry about the implants that are inside me.

None of us asked for this to happen and the reaction we’ve had from our clinics has been frankly disgraceful.  Some have stepped up and offered free help, others like Transform have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to offer women help and even then they haven’t gone far enough.    

Every woman with PiPs is worried and wants action to have these things taken out.  That’s why we’ll be campaigning to make sure that every woman gets equal and fair treatment from their clinics.

We are victims of a scandal that allowed sub-standard products to end up inside us.  This is not the first of these scandals – we can’t ignore the suffering that victims of sub-standard hip replacements have also gone through – but we want to make sure it’s the last.  

Everything that can be done by the Scottish Government needs to be done.  There are some important questions that need to be answered

  • Exactly how many women have been affected by the PiP implant scandal in Scotland?  The only figures out there are an estimate from the First Minister.
  • What is the rupture rate in Scotland? Sir Bruce Keogh’s review wasn’t clear on that.  
  • Why were warnings from doctors like Awf Quaba in 2006, who worked at Spire Hospital in Edinburgh, regarding the dangers of PIP Implants not acted upon until the recall in 2010?
  • How many other private clinics in Scotland knew of the dangers of PiP implants before the recall in 2010?
  • What information did both Scottish and UK Governments have regarding the dangers of PiP Implants in 2007 – the time when it is reported that Spire in Murrayfield banned the implants.
  • Why was the Scottish NHS the only Health Service in the UK not to use PiP implants?
  • Why was a Scottish register of implants not in place before this scandal?
  • What are the public health dangers in the use of silicone implants in general?
  • Why were silicone PIP implants in use in the UK when the FDA in the US had banned all silicone implants from 1992-2006?
  • According to top plastic surgeon Taimur Shaoib, plastic surgeons were warned three times over ten years about the company PiP.  Why did no one listen?
  • Some companies use cosmetic surgeons and not consultant plastic surgeons for these operations.  These cosmetic surgeons may not be fully trained in plastic surgery.  This needs to be addressed.
  • With our implants and the recent problems with hip implants you can see that there is something seriously wrong with how these products get their certificates and are tested.  We need stronger tests and trials for all medical devices.    
  • The scandal has revealed a failure in the testing of implants after certification. How do we implement a stronger system of constant testing?
  • What can be done to improve the responsibilities of clinics to their patients in Scotland?  The PIP scandal has shown a huge difference in the approach of clinics to removal and replacement and scans.  Any inquiry needs to look into regulations that can be introduced in Scotland to ensure:
  1. A consistent standard of care is guaranteed to private and NHS clients in circumstances of defective products.
  2. A consistent approach to communicating product recalls to private and NHS patients as soon as possible.
  3. Ways of building in the need for full insurance protection from liabilities into the certification regime for private clinics.   
  4. There should also be an implants register so that people can trace their implants in the event of a defective product.  

“We, the victims of this scandal deserve the most detailed answers possible to these questions.  It is time for a full Public Inquiry into this.  

“Let’s end the questions and get some answers.”

Jenny Brown is a nurse from Edinburgh.  At the conference she talked about her experience with PiPs and how her clinics have treated her.  She said:    “When I saw the reports in December about PiPs I started thinking “what if this has happened to me?”.   I heard nothing from my clinic Transform until I phoned and they got back to me weeks later halfway through January.  

“When they told me I had these implants I felt sick.  That feeling hasn’t gone away over time, it’s just got worse.  The worry and anger at how we’ve been treated has pretty much taken over my life.

“Yesterday I attended a breast clinic appointment. The specialist found lumps under my right arm and an ultrasound confirmed that my right implant has ruptured and that I have silicone in my lymph nodes under my arm. I am having my implants removed by the NHS next Wednesday.

“I contacted Transform to let them know about this and I was disgusted with their response. They said they were sorry to hear my news and wished me luck with my procedure next week and told me that I could contact them following my surgery to discuss replacements that would now be at a cost of £2500. They’re making money out of my misery.    

“I just don’t know where to turn.  I need help and the clinic I trusted and gave money to has abandoned me in my hour of need.  I’ll never trust Transform again.

“Everyone is telling you to keep calm but put yourself in my situation and try not to be sick with worry.  

“You never expect to go through something like this in your life.  It’s physically and emotionally draining.  It’s put a strain on me and my family.  

“No one else should ever have to go through this.”

Partner at Thompsons Solicitors, Patrick McGuire, represents a number of the Scottish victims of the scandal.  They have also set up a helpline offering free legal advice to the victims.  He said:

“Back in December these women and an estimated 2,500 or 4,000 others across Scotland found out that the implants they have inside their bodies are likely to not be what they bought.  

“Since then every further story and announcement about the dangers of PiP implants across the world has added to their feeling of anxiety and uncertainty.

“In their hour of need, profit making clinics have demanded these worried women get out their chequebooks to buy peace of mind and Government and clinics continue to play “pass the buck”.  This has to stop and must never be allowed to happen again.       

“At Thompsons we’re standing fully behind these women in their campaign for fair treatment from their clinics, justice and for lessons to be learned from this scandal.  That’s why we’re helping these women fight the clinics in the court and backing their calls for a full and thorough public inquiry into this scandal in Scotland.

“It is important that all victims of the PiP scandal seek legal advice to find out their rights.  Anyone affected should call us to get free legal advice on 0800 089 13 31.

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