HSE to fund removal of faulty breast implants but will not pay for replacements

Agency writes to more than 1,500 women fitted with PIP devices made by French firm

The Health Service Executive has told more than 1,500 women with breast implants that it will fund their removal on medical grounds, but will not pay for replacement implants.

In the past week, the HSE has written to women fitted with defective implants manufactured by French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) advising them of referral options.

The letter says the HSE has written to all GPs in relation to the most appropriate “referral pathway” for those concerned about defective implants.

The findings from two international reports show that there are no medical, toxicological or other data to justify removal of an intact PIP implant, according to the HSE’s advice to GPs, which has also been sent to the affected women.


Doctors have been advised to refer patients with PIP implants to one of eight designated breast services nationally, for treatment, but only where the original primary consultant is not available. Issues in relation to other breast implants should be referred to the primary consultant, said the HSE.

Ruptured implants
"Should removal of a PIP breast implant be clinically necessary this will be actioned but replacement cosmetic implants will not be funded."

The Government promised assistance to the women when the PIP scandal broke almost three years ago, but progress has been slow.

Over half of all PIP implants in Ireland were fitted by the Harley Medical Group, which has gone into liquidation. The other two clinics which fitted them were Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and Clane General Hospital, Co Kildare.

The implants were filled with industrial-grade silicone gel, and were susceptible to rupture. Last year, the founder of PIP, Jean-Claude Mas, was sentenced to four years in prison for fraud.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said it has reports of 212 women who had experienced either a single or a bilateral rupture of their implants.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times