One of the silicone gel breast implants manufactured by the now-defunct French company (Reuters)
A silicone gel breast implant manufactured by now-defunct French company PIP

Every breast implant operation in England will be registered in a newly created database in an effort to clean up the 'cowboy' cosmetic surgery industry, ministers have said.

In a scandal that came to light two years ago, around 50,000 women in the UK and 400,000 worldwide were affected by fautly breast implants manufactured by French firm Poly Implant Prothese. The implants contained sub-standard silicone gel with double the rupture rate of other implants.

A lack of records meant some surgeons were unable to establish which women had PIP implants and what had happened to them.

The new register will now help women if there is a repeat of the PIP scandal. It will work in the same way that hip and knee operations are recorded.

Dr Dan Poulter, health minister for England, told the BBC: "The PIP implant scandal has shone a light on what is sometimes a cowboy industry where there are some murky practices.

"What we need to do is more effectively track the quality of implants women receive and to make sure that when things go wrong with those implants, that can be acted on as quickly as possible - setting up a register will help us to do that."

What is taking the government so long and why on earth are they just piloting this scheme?
Vicky Ashton, PIP victim and campaigner

Vicky Ashton, who had PIP implants and is campaigning on behalf of affected women, told BBC News that changes in the industry were not happening fast enough.

"What is taking the government so long and why on earth are they just piloting this scheme? It should have been rolled out months and months ago, and everybody should be forced to take part in it."

She added: "My main concern is this is great going forward, but what about the women who are affected now - what is the government doing for them?"

Mr Simon Withey, a consultant plastic surgeon and part of the panel that reviewed the industry, said a breast implant register was "exactly the right thing to do".

"It acts as an early warning system of product failure which would have been helpful in PIP and it is now critical that if there are any product failures in the future that we can track patients as quickly as possible."

Health ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will decide if they are to join the register.

The government still has to tackle calls for legislation to make fillers prescription only and requiring formal qualifications for anyone injecting Botox.

The full response is expected early in the New Year.

The cosmetic procedures industry has grown in value from £750m in the UK in 2005, to £2.3bn in 2010 and is forecast to reach £3.6bn by 2015.