Inquiry into hip implants needed - Labour

By Kate Shuttleworth

Doctors say they may struggle to find every recipient of metal implants which have a high rate of failure. Photo / Thinkstock
Doctors say they may struggle to find every recipient of metal implants which have a high rate of failure. Photo / Thinkstock

An inquiry is being called for after the recall of a second metal-on-metal hip replacement device.

Labour's health spokeswoman Maryan Street criticised the Government's move to block a health select committee inquiry into the devices and said New Zealand should follow overseas governments' lead and launch an inquiry.

In March Ms Street added motion on notice on the health and disability select committee agenda calling for an inquiry.

She said the five national party members voted against the motion, while the remaining five voted in favour.

An even vote meant the status quo remained that no inquiry would be carried out.

"Tony Ryall has claimed we can look to the inquiry held in Australia and learn from them, but it's not enough,'' said Ms Street.

"Other countries have conducted reviews and inquiries.The health minister should not have to be provoked by the select committee to be concerned about the health and welfare of New Zealanders,'' said Ms Street.

Forty-one New Zealanders are affected by the recall of a hip replacement device. Medsafe said the latest recall, of Mitch THR hip implants, came amid increased scrutiny of similar devices.

The Mitch hip implants had been found to have failure rates in Britain of 11 per cent after three years.

The recalls mean the device will not be used in any new surgeries, and patients who already have the implants will need to be checked every year.

A recall of ASR hip implants in 2010 affected more than 500 New Zealanders and led to class-action lawsuits overseas.

"More than 500 New Zealanders have the faulty Johnson and Johnson product in their bodies and only a fraction of those had the revision surgery required to replace the original device with another. Now we have 106 more people who have been given another metal-on-metal device which has proven to be faulty.''

Fifty New Zealand patients have engaged a London barrister to seek compensation in England, where ASR was made.

Many New Zealand patients expressed anger their medical authorities and some surgeons failed to act on warnings their hip replacement had failed.

"The health minister should not have to be provoked by the select committee to be concerned about the health and welfare of New Zealanders.

"At the very least, an inquiry would produce some risk assessment. We need to know what the effects of these faulty devices might be, what high metal toxicity levels do to people's health, who needs to have them replaced and who is responsible for a faulty product and its entry into New Zealand,'' said Ms Street.

- NZ Herald

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