Abta-style insurance scheme under consideration in wake of breast implant scandal

PMI

Arrangement could help to settle disputes over financial responsibility

A national insurance scheme could be introduced to protect consumers in the wake of the breast implant scandal.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh told the BBC that the introduction of a scheme similar to the Abta (Association of British Travel Agents) arrangement is currently under consideration.

Around 40,000 women in the UK received implants manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), which were filled with non-medical grade silicone, resulting in a dispute over who should pay to have potential problems fixed.

Sir Bruce, who is leading a government review into the risks from faulty breast implants, said an Abta-style insurance model "captured the flavour of where we want to go".

Under the Abta arrangement, companies pay a subscription to become members of the scheme, which provides a fund for people to fall back on if something goes wrong.

He told BBC Radio 4's The Report: "One of the things that my review will be looking at will be something rather like the Abta arrangement that travel agents have, which means that if an organisation runs into trouble the consumer is covered."

There is no clear evidence PIP implants cause harm but the Government has said patients who had their surgery on the NHS will be able to have the implants removed and replaced free of charge. For patients who had the procedure done privately, the NHS has also agreed to pay to remove, but not replace, implants if their clinic refuses to do so or no longer exists.

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