Women fitted with faulty silicone breast implants who need them removed will have the cost covered by the State.
Chief medical officer (CMO) Tony Holohan had vowed to make the three clinics who used the industrial-grade gel to take financial responsibility for further clinical care.
But he said the Harley Medical Group, where most of the 1,500 women were fitted with PIP implants from the now defunct French company Poly Implant Prosthese, has failed to provide an appropriate care package.
“The department (of health) is not satisfied that the Harley Medical Group will fulfil their obligations in an acceptable manner,” Dr Holohan’s office said in a statement.
“Consequently it has been decided that necessary care required by the affected recipients of these implants should be made available via an alternative route.”
The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) will be used to pay for the women to undergo a surgical consultation, radiology if required, and the removal of implants if deemed clinically necessary.
The full cost to the taxpayer will be unknown until all the women have been assessed over the coming months.
Studies have found the industrial-grade silicone poses no health risks, including any increase of cancer.
Dr Holohan told members of the newly formed PIP Action Group about the proposal yesterday.
Of the 1,550 women in Ireland believed to have had the implants over the last 10 years, 138 have experienced a rupture – 35 of whom had ruptures in both breasts.
The implants – fitted in Clane Hospital in Co Kildare, Shandon Street Hospital in Co Cork and the Harley Medical Group – were found to have contained industrial-grade silicone, which is used to stuff mattresses.
Dr Holohan’s office said since concerns were first raised in March 2010 the clear priority of the Department of Health was to ensure the three treating clinics involved provide professional and appropriate care to their affected clients.
“The CMO met with the clinics to attempt to ensure that best practice and patient support was paramount in the service provided to concerned recipients of PIP implants,” it continued.
“Despite intense discussions with and ongoing and clear pressure from the CMO’s office in relation to one provider, the Harley Medical Group, that provider has failed to provide an appropriate care package for its clients.”