Over the last two weeks we have spoken to over 300 women who have become victims as a result of the PIP implant scandal. All of them tell us the same thing. They are scared and angry and they are frustrated by the lack of help they are receiving. They speak to clinics and GPs and look at what is being said by Government departments on the Internet and tell us how upsetting it is to be constantly told that there isn't a problem or if there is it's not our problem. Either way it doesn't answer the numerous questions and concerns they have.
The women we speak to are getting nowhere with the clinics who put the PIP implants in and who are now in full on damage limitation mode. Even the ones that seem to be offering support and the best deals then turn round and ask you to sign a waiver preventing you from bringing a PIP claim against them. After being let down so badly in the first place the women we are speaking to are asking quite rightly "Who can we trust?".
In the last two weeks we have spoken to women who have gone to see their GP's in tears and been shouted at or told to go away as they are making a big fuss about nothing. GP's refusing to see patients because the treatment was received privately in the first place and who don't see why the NHS should pick up the pieces now. We have spoken to women who have been physically removed from the surgery. Women who's GP's have refused to examine them and who have then paid privately for a scan which has confirmed their worse fears that the PIP implants have ruptured and the silicone inside is leaking.
These same women are then having to read comments on Facebook or in news papers where they're told that this is all their own fault. That they are victims of their own vanity. That it's not for the rest of us to sort out their problem. They are reading quotes from Government ministers and advisors saying that there is nothing to worry about. That there is nothing wrong. That there is no need to fear this unknown, untested, unreliable bag that's sloshing around inside of you. That the implants despite having substandard shells that rupture and allow bleeds are no more dangerous then any other.
We have spoken to over 300 women in the last two weeks and below is an email from just one of them describing what she has been through in the last 9 years. There are also the photographs she sent which were taken by the surgeon who removed her PIP implants and who described them as the worst he'd ever seen. We feel it's important that it's there to be read and the pictures there to be seen. It's important that governments and clinics and health care professionals realise that this isn't just a bit of a scare affecting women who wanted to be glamour models with big boobs. This is a genuine problem which is affecting women who thought and saved long and hard before making the decision to undergo surgery. Women who in the most part just wanted a bit more self confidence but have found themselves in a bloody nightmare.
"I had PIP implants approximately 9 years ago which from day 1 caused pain, burning and a tingling sensation down my right arm. I went to see the surgeon on numerous occasions regarding these problems to which he just fobbed me off saying "well you do have implants" making me feel silly and complaining about nothing. It wasn't until 6 years later that I noticed a lump under my right armpit and lumps in my right breast, again I went back to him for him to say again there is nothing wrong, so I went to my own GP who sent me for an ultrasound which discovered numerous ruptures and leakages! I decided to get them replaced by a different surgeon as I was not happy with the after care I received from the original surgeon. After my implant had been replaced the surgeon came to me and said he had never ever seen a rupture so bad in his 20 years of surgery and believes for a rupture to be so bad it must have been like that for a very long time! So if the original surgeon had given me a bit more care I would not be left with a lump the size of a 50 pence piece and also saved me a lot of money and stress. I believe now that the implant may have been ruptured from the beginning which would explain the pain and discomfort I was feeling."
As lawyers we are in a frustrating position where we are speaking to clients who want and need and deserve a quick fix and we are not able to provide that for them. While the insurers are refusing to deal with PIP claims and the clinics are denying liability and the Government and NHS are sticking their heads firmly in the sand it looks like progress is going to be slow. But what we can promise our clients is that we are there to offer them all the help and support we can and we can promise them that we are going to fight their corner on this.
We have a team at Slee Blackwell involved in cosmetic surgery law who over the last two weeks have spoken to the 300 women and who have read the emails and have seen the photographs and who are disgusted by the way they've all been treated and who want to help. We want our clients to know this and we want those who are still looking for help to know where they can turn.