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Green Party Communications | 20.04.2012 | Back to News | News Archive
Green Party health spokesperson, Oisín Ó hAlmhain, called on Minister Reilly to make arrangements for proper care to be given to patients who received defective breast implants. He also called for strong and effective regulation of the medical devices industry in Europe to cut down on problems like this in the future.
He stated that in August of 2010 after a recall of a DuPuy product, hips were replaced at no charge to the patient by the HSE. However, 1,500 Irish women who received PIP implants have been left out in the cold and told to pay for their own MRI scans and their own replacement procedures. Approximately 150 of these women will need their implants replaced. Some have contacted the Green Party. It can be a frightening experience to know that a defective medical device is inside your body, and that the company that manufactured the device, and the clinic that performed the procedure, have no intention to rectify the situation.
Mr Ó hAlmhain continued: "The HSE could offer MRI scans to all women affected. This could be provided in our public hospitals at a smaller cost than is currently being borne by the patients themselves who have to travel to private hospitals and pay more than €200 for scans."
"Communication between the Irish Medicines Board, Clinics and the patients has been poor, with a UK based helpline having been provided and staffed by non-health professionals with no counselling skills evident."
"In many cases the HSE provides backup and emergency medical care for mishaps in the private system. This care is given on the basis that the public system looks after all patients without reference to the ability to pay."
Some people will claim that the women affected chose to have cosmetic surgery. While of the women affected could include those who have had prophylactic mastectomies to avoid breast cancer, they did not expect to have their health threatened in this way. All of the women affected have been taken advantage of by organisations which operate in the heath system but are primarily motivated by making money. The Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) company in France used industrial grade silicone to boost their profits. Medical devices are a multi-billion euro industry and an important part of our economy. Harley Medical Centre, who carried out procedures in Ireland, are also a for profit organisation, and are not under the control of the HSE.
Our public health system looks after the needs of patients who develop ill-health due to other lifestyle choices. Why not then look after the needs of a small group of women whose health has been threatened by a much less risky choice, that of cosmetic surgery?
"These scandals highlight the need for proper regulation in the medical devices sector. Minister Reilly's recent failure to co-sign a letter from French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand to the European Commissioner John Dalli brings to the surface the preference for lax regulation which is endemic in Fine Gael. Even without lobbying from Industry, Minister Reilly seems to think that making sure people play by the rules will be bad for business, " concluded Oisín Ó hAlmhain.