DOCTORS are writing to more than 1,500 patients who have received hip replacements in Oxfordshire as far back as 1999.

Over the next month, patients who have received metal-on-metal hip im-plants or replacements at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC) or the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford will receive a letter.

It will include a questionnaire which asks patients whether they have noticed a rash or are in pain.

If necessary, people will then be asked to return to hospital for a precautionary check, followed possibly by a replacement implant.

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) Trust said it was contacting people over the next four weeks.

A spokesman said: “We are reviewing all hip operations using implants where both the ball and socket replacement joints are made from metal (known as metal-on-metal implants).

“This follows guidance from the Medical and Healthcare Related Devices Agency (MHRA) and is in response to some reports of adverse reactions to the minute metal particles shed as part of the general wear process.

“We would like to reassure patients that the incidence of problems is very low.”

The move comes after calls from experts to ban the use of metal-on-metal hip replacements because of a high ‘failure rate’.

Research published in the medical journal The Lancet found “unequivocal evidence” of high failure rates of implants, particularly among women.

Hip replacements come in different varieties such as all metal, all ceramic or metal-on-plastic.

Researchers from the watchdog MHRA also recently discovered friction from the metal rubbing on metal can cause debris to break off.

Tiny pieces of metal can break off and leak into the blood.

It is believed this can cause muscle and bone damage as well as neurological issues.

Abingdon town councillor Lesley Legge underwent a hip operation at the NOC in November.

She said she did not know which type she had but would like to know more.

She said: “I haven’t experienced any problems so I’m not going to panic too much.

“I’d be interested to know which type I have.”

Buffy McClelland, of Cowley, underwent a hip replacement six weeks ago.

The 57-year-old opted for a ceramic replacement after reading about the problems with the metal-on-metal versions.

She said: “I have read a lot of the research into metal-on-metal hip replacements.

“I am quite sensitive to metals so I opted for the ceramic.

“It seemed like the best option.”