Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
THURSDAY 22 MARCH 2001
100. I am sorry, I thought you said in your
earlier evidence that your operation was for remedial purposes?
(Ms Livsey) It was, yes.
101. I suppose it could be cosmetic. Could you
in theory have had that operation if you had wished to at the
time on the National Health Service?
(Ms Livsey) To tell you the truth, before I left for
the US I did not even know that they existed.
102. When you came back could you have had that
operation in theory on the NHS?
(Ms Livsey) No.
(Ms Irwin) I think there was a time, if I might just
come in on this, when if a patient could go and see a psychiatrist,
if they were a psychiatric patient, and the psychiatrist said
it would behove them to have the operation they could but, I mean,
who wants to actually go and see a psychiatrist. Then when the
people wanted them removed, back to the psychiatrist and so on.
This is very embarrassing. The psychiatrist would condone this
and say "Yes, she does". Some would and some would not.
I think that was what tended to happen then if it was to be done
on the National Health, a psychiatrist came into the picture very
(Ms Livsey) I did not feel justified to approach the
103. I was wondering as a matter of fact whether
the operation could have been carried out on the National Health
(Ms Livsey) I do not think my doctor would have agreed
104. Just briefly for information, Chairman.
The NHS does pay for breast reductions in certain situations.
In terms of breast reconstruction, it will pay if there has been
destructive surgery, radiotherapy, it will pay then. It will also
pay if there are congenital defects, if somebody, for example,
is born with the absence of one breast, the NHS will cover that.
The NHS has always covered a certain amount of it but only for
medical reasons. It does not need a psychiatrist, the GP is able
to refer people to plastic surgeons for those reasons. If it is
deemed cosmetic the NHS does not pay.
(Ms Livsey) It does.
(Ms Heasman) It depends where you live. I know this
for a fact, it does not matter what your circumstances are, it
is where you live and whether that area health authority will.
14 per cent of the women I surveyed attempted to get their breast
augmentation done on the NHS but were unsuccessful and only three
per cent of those were referred to a psychologist.
105. Are there any further questions from colleagues
or any further points that the witnesses want to add, issues we
did not pick up with you that you thought we might? Ms Heasman?
(Ms Heasman) I only just want to say, I am going to
blow my own trumpet here, why not? I have been doing this for
over five years now. As I said in my text, a lot of companies,
surgeons, etc, do not tell women of my existence because I paint
the picture warts and all. I am not here to say "Breast implants
are great, you should go and have them done". I am not here
to say also that they are bad and you should not have them done.
I am here to say if you are going to do it make sure you do it
properly. I run a non profit making organisation. I do not make
a penny out of it. It is run purely by ladies, £20 a year
it costs them to become a member and I keep them informed. I put
them in touch with other ladies. I get them to fill out questionnaires.
I get them back and I evaluate it and that is how I can give you
these figures. I would like some help in that respect.
(Ms Livsey) Can we just add that we are not against
cosmetic surgery, what we are concerned about is the safety of
(Ms Heasman) Yes.
(Ms Irwin) Could I say in terms of the reportage of
problems, because we can only all of uswe are only amateursdo
it in an ad hoc sort of way. This year, for instance, I verified
with Christine Williamson of SS Support that she has had over
a thousand people largely with silicone gel, I think, but certainly
with implants, which will be mostly silicone gel because most
implants which are used are silicone gel, at least a thousand
people on her helpline talking about problems, either systemic
illness problems or local problems. This gives some sort of amateur
guide, if you like.
(Ms Heasman) I have just over 3,000 women on my list.
Chairman: Can I thank you for your participation
and for your written evidence, particularly to those of you who
have shared your own personal experience which has been very helpful
and very informative as far as the Committee is concerned. Thank
you very much.