The government has announced a review of the cosmetic surgery industry following fears over the safety of breast implants made by the French firm, PIP.
The scandal received widespread media exposure causing widespread fears amongst 47,000 British women thought to have had them and by June almost 750 had undergone removal surgery on the NHS at an estimated cost of £3 million.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has commissioned the review to protect women with a view to tighter regulation of private clinics and stricter rules on advertising within the cosmetic surgery industry.
The review will encourage people to give their views on and share their experiences of the cosmetic surgery industry and cosmetic procedures. Popular treatments include breast augmentation, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), breast reduction, facelift (rhytidectomy), breast uplift, laser skin resurfacing, brow lifts, nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), ear reshaping (otoplasty) and tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedures.
The call for evidence asks for views on:
The regulation and safety of products used in cosmetic interventions.
How best to ensure that the people who carry out procedures have the necessary skills and qualifications.
How to ensure that organisations have the systems in place to look after their patients both during their treatment and afterwards.
How to ensure that people considering cosmetic surgery and procedures are given the information, advice, and time for reflection to make an informed choice.
What improvements are needed in dealing with complaints so they are listened to and acted upon.
While the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPs) undertook over 43,000 procedures for men and women in 2011, a rise of 5.8% on the year before, a significant number of surgeons advertise their services without the necessary qualifications to undertake procedures.
The NHS Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh will aim to end unethical practices which have undermined the credibility of the cosmetic surgery industry which is worth £2.3bn in the UK. At present the cosmetic surgery sector is regulated by two different bodies – the General Medical Council and Care Quality Commission – but the doctors who carry out the operations don’t have to be qualified surgeons.
Keogh is concerned that the public is more concerned about costs than safety when considering cosmetic surgery. The department of health released a survey of 1,762 people showing that two-thirds (67%) of those questioned said cost was a factor but only 54% said they questioned the qualifications of the doctor.
A team of experts will assist Sir Bruce Keogh to gather evidence and make recommendations to the Government by next March. Minimum training requirements for surgeons and psychological screening to protect vulnerable patients are expected to be introduced following the enquiry.