Firms offer free implant removal
A number of private health companies have now announced that women worried about their PIP breast implants will not have to pay to get them removed, following on from the NHS's pledge to offer to do it for free.
While experts have concluded there is no evidence to recommend routine removal of the implants, they said they could not entirely rule out that some were toxic.
Around 40,000 women in the UK received the implants, manufactured by now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), which were filled with non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
On Friday the Government said those patients who had their implants on the NHS as part of breast reconstruction surgery - believed to be around 5% of the total - will be able to have them removed and replaced if they are concerned.
The Government said it intended to pursue clinics where women paid for their implants privately to offer their removal for free to avoid the taxpayer picking up the bill.
BMI Healthcare has said that any patient who had their PIP implants put in by the company can have them removed at no cost. A statement on its website said: "BMI Healthcare believes that patients with these implants should not be left worrying about a real or perceived risk.
"We have therefore decided that any patient who paid BMI Healthcare for their PIP implant surgery and who wishes now to have their PIP implant removed and replaced will be able to do so, at no cost."
Nuffield also said it would cover the cost of removing PIP implants, providing it was safe to do so. A spokeswoman said: "Nuffield Health only used a small number of these implants in only a few of our hospitals, however we would like to reassure any of our patients who might be concerned that, if there is a clinical need to do so, we will cover the cost of investigating or removing your implants."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Private providers have legal obligations to their patients. The NHS will offer a package of care for its patients, and we expect the private sector to do the same."
Cosmetic surgery group Transform said its surgeons would be available to any concerned patients free of charge, "to discuss the available options and offer appropriate counselling and guidance"