HUNDREDS of boob job patients at a Wearside hospital have been offered free replacement of a controversial implant.
About 450 women patients at Spire Washington Hospital were given the PIP breast implants that are now at the centre of a health scare.
They contain a form of silicone that was intended for use in mattresses.
There has been widespread concern about the implants, and the damage caused if they rupture, since the French Government told women they should have them removed.
On Friday, the British Government said private hospitals have a “moral duty” to remove the now banned implants from women they operated on.
They said the NHS would also remove the implants if the private clinic refuses the patient.
Now Spire, which runs a private hospital in Rickleton, Washington, has decided to act.
A statement from the company said: “Spire Healthcare’s foremost priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our patients.
“Current MHRA guidance is that there is no evidence of toxicity or adverse health effects arising from the filler in the PIP implants. However, we take our responsibility to our patients extremely seriously and have become increasingly concerned by the level of anxiety they will be facing.
“We are therefore offering every patient treated at a Spire hospital a free consultation with a specialist consultant surgeon and a screening scan.
“If, following clinical advice from the consultant, the patient chooses to have their implants removed and replaced, Spire will arrange this free of charge.
“Additionally, women who choose not to have their implants removed will also be offered a follow-up scan in two years’ time, or earlier should they have any concerns.”
Clinical director Dr Jean-Jacques de Gorter added: “We have a duty of care to our patients - their safety and wellbeing comes first.
“Women have been made to feel anxious about their implants, and we want to make sure that every individual patient is given the support they need to restore their confidence and peace of mind.
“We believe all private providers should step up and deliver on their duty of care to patients. Every woman in the UK who has PIP implants should be given the right to discuss having them removed if they wish.”
Spire is calling for the re-introduction of a national implant register. This issue has highlighted the need to have robust data available to improve patients’ confidence in both the NHS and private sector.
Around 40,000 women in the UK had breast implants manufactured by the now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses.
More may have travelled abroad for cheap surgery in clinics using the implants. Some British women may also have received Rofil M implants, which were produced by PIP and used in overseas clinics.
Experts including leading plastic surgeons have been examining UK data on rupture rates as well as concerns around the material used in the implants.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said its figures indicate one per cent of implants in the UK have ruptured and insists there is no evidence of a link with cancer, as reported in one French case.
However, experts have cast doubt on the UK rupture figures, with Fazel Fatah, who is sitting on the Government review panel, saying there is no firm data on what proportion of devices have ruptured in Britain.
Over the weekend, the Government said that the NHS would cover the costs for women who had the implants fitted by the health service and who are anxious to have them removed.
It is thought 95 per cent of women had the operation privately, five per cent on the NHS.
* Have you had a PIP breast implant? Tell us your story by calling the Echo on (0191) 501 7208 or contact us by email at email@example.com.