Cosmetic surgery firms may be forced to fund insurance scheme in wake of breast implants scandal… but will cost be passed on to patients
Government review considering cosmetic insurance that would work like travel agents' Abta schemeFears cosmetic surgery companies will pass costs on to patients, leading to a spike in the price of treatments
An insurance scheme for cosmetic surgery patients could be introduced in the wake of the breast implant scandal.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, who is leading a government review into the risks from faulty breast implants said the scheme would protect consumers.
He said today that he favours a protection fund, paid for by the industry, that could be drawn on if the industry hits trouble or another major scandal erupts.
However, there are fears that cosmetic surgery companies will simply pass the costs on to patients, in the form of higher bills for treatments.
Protesters gather outside The Harley Medical Group on January 14, after they refused to replace their faulty breast implants. The Government are now looking at compulsory insurance schemes
Around 40,000 women in the UK received
implants manufactured by the now-closed French company Poly Implant
Prostheses (PIP), which were filled with non-medical grade silicone.
Although there is no clear evidence PIP implants cause harm, the Government has said anxious patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have the implants removed and replaced free of charge.
If there is a clinical need, the NHS will also pay to remove, but not replace, implants if a private clinic refuses to do so or no longer exists.
The Harley Medical Group, which fitted
PIP breast implants to almost 14,000 British women, and Transform are
among the private firms which have refused to replace the implants for
free, despite the Government saying private clinics have a moral duty to
look after their customers.
Sir Bruce Keogh is leading a government review into PIP implants
Sir Bruce, who is medical director of the NHS, said the scheme under consideration would be similar to the insurance protection scheme in place in the travel industry.
He told BBC Radio 4's The Report: 'One of the things that my review will be looking at will be something rather like the Abta arrangement that travel agents have, which means that if an organisation runs into trouble the consumer is covered.'
Companies pay a subscription to become members of Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which provides a fund for people to fall back on if something goes wrong.
Sir Bruce said this model 'captured the flavour of where we want to go'.
A breast implant registry could also be reintroduced to record details of all operations, it was reported.
It comes a week after Mel Braham, chairman of Harley Medical Group (HMG) said he wanted the taxpayer to foot the bill to help its patients.
Mr Braham said his
firm had been made a ‘scapegoat’ in the saga and was the victim of a
conspiracy by other surgeons who want to see him out of business.
said the chain of 31 clinics, like its patients, was an ‘innocent
victim’ of a regulatory failure, and said it was ‘outrageous’ of the
Government to call on private clinics to take responsibility.
group, which had a turnover of more than 30million in 2009, fitted
around one in three of the 45,000 PIP implants sold across the country.
The chain is currently deluged with around 2,000 calls a day from women, most of whom want their implants removed.
Mr Brahman's comments caused fury among MPs, patients, surgeons and lawyers,
who say a clinic’s first duty is to its patients, not its profits.
AGONY OF MOTHER-TO-BE
Anntina suffered burning and stabbing pains
When Anntina Maughan had her breasts enlarged, she was thrilled with the results.
Now, four years later and pregnant, the mother of two couldn't be more unhappy with them.
Scans show that one – or both – of the PIP implants have ruptured.
But, at five-and-a-half-months pregnant, Miss Maughan, 39, of Crawley in West Sussex, has been advised against surgery to have them out.
Miss Maughan paid Harley Medical Group 5,000 for breast augmentation after enduring years of low self-esteem due to her small bust.
Last year she started experiencing burning pains, and then found lumps in her breasts, raising fears of cancer.
She now suffers stabbing pains – but has been advised not to have the ruptured implants out when pregnant.
Miss Maughan believes the Harley Medical Group should pay to remove and replace the implants after she has her baby.
She added: 'It is their fault this happened. I went there in full confidence. If it was up to me, I'd have the implants out right now. I worry because I don't know what was in them.'