Clinic fails to appear at committee

A cosmetic surgery clinic at the centre of the breast implant scandal was severely criticised yesterday for refusing to appear before the Joint Committee on Health and Children.

Of the 1,500 women in Ireland with Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) implants, 1,159 had them fitted by the Harley Medical Group.

The group had been asked to attend a meeting of the Oireachtas committee so members could discuss the clinic’s refusal to replace the defective implants in all their Irish patients free of charge.

Health Minister James Reilly this month said the clinic would be pursued for any money spent by the State in providing consultations and treatment to women fitted with faulty breast implants.

The other two clinics which fitted the French-manufactured implants were Shandon Street Hospital in Cork and Clane Hospital in Kildare.

The Harley Medical Group has not complied with requests from Mr Reilly and the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan to ensure all their Irish patients who want to have the implants removed have the procedure carried out at no additional cost.

The other two medical clinics who carried out similar procedures in Ireland have co-operated.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the committee, chairman Jerry Buttimer said they were extremely disappointed the Harley Medical Group refused an invitation to appear.

He said the committee had received a less than satisfactory statement from the group. “It shows a blatant disregard to the duty of care the group has for its patients and, quite frankly, it’s not good enough,” Mr Buttimer said.

The Harley Medical Group declined to comment on the committee’s statement yesterday.

The committee has urged Mr Reilly to pursue the group through the courts, if necessary, to recoup the full costs associated with the procedures.

It is also urging him to seek clarification from the company that awarded the quality mark to PIP implants regarding its liability.

“It is completely un-satisfactory that private operators can come into this country, perform proced-ures, and then abdicate their responsibilities when it suits them,” Mr Buttimer said.

“We are calling on the minister to bring forward legislation which will fully regulate the cosmetic surgery industry so we can ensure the health of Irish patients is sacrosanct over profit.”

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