More regulation needed in cosmetic interventions

  • Date: 25 April 2013

THE MULTI-BILLION pound UK industry providing surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions is inadequately regulated according to an independent review published by the Department of Health in England.

Led by NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the review found that despite the popularity of Botox, dermal fillers and laser hair removal – which account for nine out of ten procedures in the UK – these non-surgical interventions are subject to almost no regulation.

Recommendations outlined in the report Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions include making all dermal fillers prescription only and ensuring practitioners are properly qualified for all the procedures they offer, from cosmetic surgeons doing breast enlargements to people offering "injectables", such as dermal fillers or Botox. The review also recommended that there should be an ombudsman to oversee all private healthcare including cosmetic procedures.

The government commissioned the review following the PIP breast implant scandal, which exposed significant lapses in product quality, after care and record keeping. It also drew attention to widespread use of misleading advertising, inappropriate marketing and unsafe practices across the sector.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, said: "At the heart of this report is the person who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure. We have heard terrible reports about people who have trusted a cosmetic practitioner to help them but, when things have gone wrong, they have been left high and dry with no help. These people have not had the safety net that those using the NHS have. This needs to change.

"We would like to see everyone who chooses to have any cosmetic procedure better protected. We would like to see people who carry out procedures trained to a high standard. We would like the public to feel confident they are going to be well looked after and, if things go wrong, that they will be supported. And ultimately, if someone needs to step in on the side of patients, we think there should be an ombudsman to do that."

Other recommendations in the review include making providers ensure that potential patients are aware of the implications and risks of any procedure and giving them adequate time to consider this information before agreeing to surgery. There should also be an advertising code of conduct with mandatory compliance and insurance products should be developed to protect patients in the event of product failure or provider insolvency.

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