06/01/2012 12:09 GMT | Updated 06/01/2012 17:34 GMT

Implants Scandal: No Evidence For Women With PIP Implants To Have Them Removed

There is no evidence to suggest the 40,000 women affected by the PIP scandal should get their breast implants removed, the government said on Friday afternoon.

The advice came after a panel of experts, including leading plastic surgeons, reported on the scandal.

However women who had breast implants on the NHS will be able to have them removed in operations paid for by the taxpayer if their doctor approves.

The Department of Health confirmed that any woman who is denied help by a private clinic will be able to have her implants removed on the NHS.

Implants manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prostheses were found to have a higher chance of rupturing, although the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have said they are not linked to breast cancer.

But health secretary Andrew Lansley said on Friday that there was not "sufficient evidence" for implants to removed: “Throughout the past few weeks, my main concern has been for the safety of and compassion for women who have had PIP implants. It has been a worrying time for these women. We have at every stage sought to offer them as much advice and evidence as is available to us.

“Our advice remains the same that there is not sufficient evidence to recommend routine removal. We have always recommended that women who are concerned should speak to their surgeon or GP. The NHS will support removal of PIP implants if, after this consultation, the patient still has concerns and with her doctor she decides that it is right to do so."

Earlier in the week Fazel Fatah, a member of the government review panel, has said a "significant number" of implants could have ruptured inside women without their knowledge.

He urged the government to make it "crystal clear" whether women should have their implants removed.

And fellow panel member Tim Goodacre said women should have the implants removed to prevent "uncertainty".

Lansley had given plastic surgery companies 48 hours to get their houses in order and provide the government with "clear data" about faulty breast implants.

In France, the government has told women they should have the implants removed after they were found to contain non-medical grade silicone intended for use in mattresses. The Czech government made the same recommendation earlier on Friday.

Andrew Lansley has given private clinics 48 hours to get their houses in order and provide the government with "clear data" about faulty breast implants.

The health secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the "inadequacy" of the information provided by clinics and health providers had concerned the government.

But he reassured women that based on evidence the coalition did have, there was "no case for the routine removal of these implants".

"What I think any woman who is worried should do is talk to their go to their consulting surgeon or to their implanting surgeon and discuss their concerns, explore whether they need any further investigations, for example for a scan, and look at what is right in their individual circumstances," Lansley said.

On Tuesday a member of the government's review looking at the risk of PIP implants rupturing said the panel would not provide firm data.

Consultant plastic surgeon Fazel Fatah said there could be a "significant number" of ruptured implants that the government did not know about.

"A significant number of patients also do not go back to the clinic where they had their surgery if they suffer a rupture.

"Instead, they go to the NHS and are dealt with in the NHS.

"We do not know the exact rupture rate in the UK."