In May 2013 patient safety experts called for greater transparency over the regulation of medical devices such as hip and breast implants after problems with “metal-on-metal” hips and PIP breast implants and their regulation were highlighted in the media.

Metal-on-metal (MoM) hip replacements: These were introduced to the UK in the 1990s as they were thought to offer better mobility than the previously used metal ball and plastic socket. However it seems that problems can occur with these devices when friction between the metal ball and metal cup causes minuscule metal filings to break off. These can seep into the blood, cause inflammation and destroy muscle and bone. There have also been concerns that the nervous system could be put at risk and that patients with this type of hip replacement are slowly being poisoned. More than 40,000 patients in the UK have received this type of hip replacement. (Source: The Telegraph)

PIP Breast Implants: In June 2012 a UK report found that breast implants made by the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) had been made from industrial grade silicone rather than the medical grade material that has passed safety tests for use in the human body.

Not only that, but the implants were twice as likely to rupture as other implants. When an implant ruptures is can lead to the formation of scar tissue which can change the shape and feel of the breast. The gel can also be an irritant, causing pain and irritation.

It was recommended that any women who had undergone breast augmentation surgery with PIP implants should have them removed and replaced, particularly as the worry and and anxiety about the implants was a health concern itself. Over half a million women were affected worldwide and approximately 47,000 in the UK.