- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
I’m glad to see some commentary and analysis concerning the breast implant scandal and the NHS. Many private cosmetic surgery companies are refusing to replace sub-standard breast implants made by the French company PIP.
There are lessons here about private companies involvement in healthcare.
Firstly, the French company producing the sub-standard implants did it in the pursuit of profit. The company disregarded the health effects to patients of using prohibited substances and deliberately deceived inspectors to make more profits.
Secondly, many private cosmetic surgery companies are quick to take your money and hesitant in assisting their former patients when it becomes known that they have been pedalling sub-standard products. Clearly, this is the profit motive again. There should be no place for the profit motive when it comes to peoples’ health.
Thirdly, the NHS is there as a last resort … for now. What would happen once the NHS is abolished according to the scum Con-Dem coalition government’s plans? There would be nobody to care for people as a last resort. Former patients would be forced to pay again after botched surgery or suffer the consequences. Again, there should be no place for the profit motive when it comes to peoples’ health.
Dr Richard Horton, the editor of medical journal the Lancet discusses the NHS and the breast implant scandal.
Dr Richard Horton, the editor of medical journal the Lancet, said the NHS was paying the price for a lack of regulation that has led to the breast implant scandal.
His comments came as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley prepared to make another statement to the Commons about what the NHS can do for women with PIP implants that are at risk of rupturing.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr Horton said: “What we have seen in this latest episode is private sector providers of health care simply walking away from their responsibility to patients.
“The Secretary of State has absolutely no ability other than pleading with private sector companies to fulfil their duty of care to patients. We saw Andrew Lansley; all he was able to say was they have a moral duty and he asked them to do what the NHS was doing.”
He raised concerns about other kinds of common implants and devices such as hip and heart valve replacements.
“The way it was described at a recent safety of devices meeting was that we have a smokescreen of device regulation, which is unfortunately putting patients and surgeons at risk,” he said.
“What we will see with private providers is a fragmentation of the NHS, with no accountability, we will see no transparency, we will see the diminution in the quality of care.
“And unfortunately what we are seeing with the breast implant scandal is the future of the NHS, it will be destroyed.”
It has been estimated that the breast implant scandal could cost as much as £11 million after a top cosmetic surgery clinic refused to pay for operations to remove faulty implants.
The Department of Health said it would “pursue private clinics” but said it would help women who were refused surgery or care.
Cosmetic surgery companies’ responses:
So far, eight private firms have offered to remove and replace faulty breast implants free of charge, if they performed the operation in the first place.
However, most of these only used the French-made implants on a relatively small number of women.
In total, the eight firms offering free removal performed breast enlargement operations used the implants on between 3,000 and 4,000 women.
By comparison, at least 40,000 women have been given the implants, made by now-defunct firm Poly Implant Protheses (PIP), in Britain over the last decade.
The firms that have agreed to offer removal and replacement are as follows:
The first company to say it would fund removal (on Wednesday January 4) it used PIPs on about 150 women. The firm said it would meet all costs of investigation, further surgical treatment and removal, if needed, for all of them.
Agreed on Friday January 6 to fund removal and replacement for the 1,500 women who had received PIPs through the company.
Said at the weekend it would remove and replace implants for some 1,540 women who had received them at the firm’s clinics, but only “when appropriate” and on a “case-by-case” basis.
Has announced it will remove and replace implants for women who received PIPs at BMI’s clinics “at no cost”, and will also remove and replace implants for women who originally received them elsewhere for “a guaranteed fixed price package”.
In total, the two categories include some 1,311 women, although a spokesman refused to say how many had originally received them at BMI.
Has agreed to fund removal and replacement after consultation with a clinician for some 150 former clients.
Will remove and replace PIP implants for the 46 clients who received them there in the past, free of charge.
Has agreed to fund removal and replacement after consultation with a clinician for “just over” 150 former clients.
Has stated HCA will “meet the cost incurred” for those former patients who received PIPs and “require clinical investigation or further surgical support, including the removal of the PIP implant due to clinical need”, including the distress of having them.
UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is calling on the government to learn lessons from the implant replacement disaster, and put a stop to its plan to hand over large swathes of our NHS to private companies.
The union has consistently warned that the moves – outlined in the Health and Social Care bill – would see profits put before patients. The case of rich medical groups refusing to remove potentially dangerous implants from worried patients is deeply alarming.
Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said:
“The Secretary of State is handing over large parts of our NHS to the private sector and he will be unable to control them. Appealing to these companies to do the right thing will not be enough. When will Andrew Lansley realise that his own Bill will render him increasingly impotent in intervening in such cases in future? It is time to drop the Bill to protect patients.”
In other news:
The High Court has ruled that Justice Secretary Ken Clarke was wrong to stop the BBC filming a terrorism suspect held for seven years without trial.
The court said there was public interest in interviewing Babar Ahmad, due to the case’s exceptional nature.
The Justice Secretary had argued an interview was not necessary to inform the public about Mr Ahmad’s story.
The Conservatives may have been able to avoid entering a coalition with the Liberal Democrats had the 2010 election been carried out using the new proposed boundaries for the United Kingdom, analysis by the Guardian suggests.
Publication of new electoral boundaries for Wales comes in the wake of similar proposals for the other parts of the union and allows, for the first time, modelling of the effects of the proposed changes across the country.
British spies are expected to find out on Thursday whether they will face charges over their alleged complicity in the torture of terror suspects.
Several MI5 and MI6 agents are understood to be at the centre of criminal investigations into the treatment of former detainees including UK resident Binyam Mohamed. Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have claimed British security and intelligence officials colluded in their torture and abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service will issue a statement “announcing a number of decisions in relation to the investigations into the alleged ill treatment of detainees”. The announcement comes after human rights campaigners condemned the US government’s ongoing failure to close Guantánamo, 10 years after the arrival of its first inmates.
An inquiry into British complicity in torture and rendition is expected to begin after the police investigation delivers its report.
The Liberal Democrats’ biggest donor, who has been on the run for three years after being convicted of a multimillion pound theft, has been arrested by police in the Dominican Republic, the Guardian can disclose.
Michael Brown, who bankrolled the party with £2.4m of stolen money, was detained near the resort of Punta Cana on the easternmost tip of the Caribbean island this week. Interpol has been informed.
Named by City of London police as one of Britain’s most wanted fraudsters,
Brown, 45, disappeared while on bail for a £40m fraud and was sentenced in his absence to seven years in prison.