Health scare PIP breast implants were fitted on NHS at Royal Free Hospital

New figures have revealed 61 women were fitted with breast implants containing non medical grade silicone on the NHS at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

The hospital in Pond Street is contacting women who received PIP implants, made with the low-grade silicone, which have been banned due to fears they could rupture and leak.

It is the only hospital in the country still contacting affected patients and the Royal Free could be faced with a bill of up to �532,000 to replace the banned implants.

Consultant plastic surgeon Ash Mosahebi, who has worked at the Royal Free for five years, said: “People are very concerned about it and concerned about the dangers of cancer and what is going to happen to the breast and the body. There’s been very high levels and some of it is understandable.”

Breast implants are usually offered on the NHS to cancer patients having corrective surgery and women who were born with breast defects.

Fifteen women were fitted with PIP implants at the Royal Free and another 46 were referred as NHS patients to St John & St Elizabeth private hospital in St John’s Wood.

PIP implants have not been used at the Royal Free since May 2008.

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The Royal Free is also responsible for contacting 71 patients fitted with implants at Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, which transferred to its control in 2006, and one patient at University College Hospital.

The Royal Free said the complex procedures involved in contacting patients from other hospitals was the reason it is the only hospital in the country that has not yet contacted all NHS patients affected.

But Mr Mosahebi reassured women about the potential dangers and said: “As far as we know there is no risk of any cancer, but obviously you don’t want the non medical grade silicone to remain in a person, so that’s why we offering to have them replaced.”

The hospital will remove PIP implants if a patient has concerns following a consultation with a specialist and replace them free of charge, as long as the original operation was done by the NHS.

A specialist nurse is contacting all affected women by telephone and letters have been sent to GPs.

The average cost of breast augmentation surgery at the Royal Free is �4,000.

So the 133 PIP implant cases it is handling may cost up to �532,000 to correct, although the number of women opting for removals countrywide has so far been low.

Women who are concerned should call a specialist Royal Free hotline on 020 7472 6689.

“Women should get in touch and certainly when they do, they will they be told if they had this type of implant or not,” said Mr Mosahedi. “And then, if they have had it, an appointment will be made for them to be seen by a consultant.”