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Review of the Cosmetic Surgery Industry

A review of the cosmetic surgery industry by the Department of Health has been announced  in a bid to protect patients from botched procedures.

NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, is aiming to tighten the rules on advertising and strengthen regulations following the review commissioned in light of safety fears surrounding PIP breast implants.  He commented that although there are many very good clinics, there are also some “grubby areas” of the industry which don’t give patients enough protection.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Bruce, said he was likely to suggest tighter rules on various areas:

  • Making it routine practice for all surgeons to register all devices
  • Requiring clinics to join a scheme similar to that run by the travel industry (to protect patients if the company goes bust)
  • Tightening rules on anti-ageing dermal fillers
  • Introducing minimum training requirements for surgeons carrying out cosmetic procedures
  • Carrying out psychological screening to ensure people are not seeking to solve mental health issues with surgery

The crackdown aims to drive out cowboy surgeons and make it more difficult for inexperienced beauty parlour workers to give Botox jabs, dermal fillers or conduct laser hair removal.  Botox can currently be injected by anyone who has done a half day course.

Sir Bruce went on to say: “I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the life-long implications – and possible complications – it can have”.

A poll conducted by the government found that many consider the cost of surgery more important than the qualifications of the people doing it.  Of those surveyed, 67 per cent consider cost as a factor when deciding whether or not to have cosmetic surgery.  Only 54 per cent take the qualification of their practitioner into consideration.

The industry is currently regulated by two organisations but, unbelievably, the doctors who carry out operations don’t have to be qualified surgeons.  The first regulator is The General Medical Council who can strike off dangerous surgeons.  The second is the Care Quality Commission who can carry out spot checks to inspect everything from the premises to the standard of treatment.  Businesses that are below standard can receive warnings, be fined, face prosecution or be shut down.

The review is welcomed by many in the industry as it will enhance the protection of patients, Professor Norman Williams of the Royal College of Surgeons, added: “ In an increasingly quick-fix and image-conscious society, it is easy to forget that cosmetic surgery has life-long implications.  Patients must be assured that the practitioners have the right qualification and experience”.

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