- Images and video are available
Patients undergoing breast implant surgery are being urged to speak to their surgeon and ensure their details are recorded on a registry designed to safeguard their health.
NHS Digital launched the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry (BCIR) in October 2016, to record the details of patients who have implant procedures, allowing them to be traced if they are affected by safety concerns.
The registry records the details of anyone who has breast implant surgery and the type of implant they have, providing that patients have given their consent for their information to be added, in addition to the usual consent for the surgical procedure.
Details of implant procedures, including those carried out by NHS organisations and independent healthcare providers, are held in the registry.
As at the end of January 2018, 231 providers had submitted data - 38 per cent of submissions were from NHS providers and 62 per cent were from the independent sector.
However, 39 per cent of NHS providers and 24 per cent of independent providers are still to contribute so women undergoing a procedure are being urged to speak to their surgeons and request that their details are added to the register.
Thousands of women were affected by faulty Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) silicone breast implants, which were banned in 2010. When the implants were recalled, poor record-keeping meant many women were unsure whether they had this type of implant and some could not be contacted.
The Keogh Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions, was written in response to this, and made a series of recommendations including that a national breast and cosmetic implant registry was established.
Between the launch of the registry in October 2016 and the end of January 2018, details of 12,301 patient records and 12,555 procedures were added.
Patient data is kept confidential as it is held on a secure online platform and no information is shared with third parties.
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: "It's vital that patients undergoing breast implant procedures encourage their surgeons to record their details on the registry to safeguard their health.
"The confidential record allows patients to be contacted if their safety is at risk and will hopefully give people the confidence they need when making decisions on surgery."
Tom Denwood, Executive Director of Data, Insights and Statistics at NHS Digital, said: "The development of the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry marked a major step forward in improving patient safety for those undergoing breast implant surgery. "Now we are encouraging patients to ask their surgeon to submit their data to the registry and we hope this will lead to an increase in contributions.
"The more information that is contained within this important tool, the more it will benefit patients."
Alison Lattimer, a patient representative on the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry Steering Group, added: "As someone who has undergone breast reconstruction surgery, I can understand how worrying it can be if patient safety issues arise, sometimes years later.
"We want more patients to be aware that this registry exists and to ask their surgeons about having their details included.
"The registry also provides patients with confidence and assurance when making decisions about implant surgery that they will be followed up if there are problems with the implants in the future."
As well as containing the details of patients and their implants, the registry will also allow the identification of possible trends and complications relating to specific implants.
Alison Lattimer, 45 developed cancer in both breasts as a result of the genetic condition Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome.
She underwent a double mastectomy with implant reconstruction at her local hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne in November 2012.
Six months after her operation, Alison also underwent a lipomodelling procedure to smooth out some imperfections.
Alison, who works in finance, now supports other patients going through breast reconstruction by sharing her experience of the surgery.
She said: "I provide the important viewpoint of patients and have their interests at heart. If they wish, I can act as an advocate for them."
Through this work, a surgeon at her hospital suggested she became a patient representative for the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry, which involves representing the views of those who have had implant surgery.
For images or further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 30 33 888. A video interview with Alison, which can be embedded on other websites, is available here
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The Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry (BCIR) was established by NHS Digital working with the Department of Health, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), patient representatives, relevant professional bodies and other organisations, including the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and the Association of Breast Surgery.
Providers can submit data to the BCIR using NHS Digital's online Secure Clinical Audit Platform. More information is available here.