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What Steps are Required to Make UK Cosmetic Surgery Safer?

The PIP scandal brought to light some fundamental flaws in the UK’s cosmetic surgery industry. What started with one French factory producing substandard breast implants ended with the largest investigation ever carried out. It revealed multiple flaws in the system and gave the industry a much-needed wake-up call.

October 14, 2016

Until then, there had been no safety net in place, and this was brought to light when Sir Bruce Keogh revealed there were “woeful lapses in record keeping”. The problem was so severe that some clinics were unable to provide details of the patients who had been fitted with PIP implants.

The source of these problems seems to stem from the way that cosmetic surgery in the UK has developed almost entirely independently of the NHS. There is little crossover between NHS and private cosmetic surgery, which means the industry has been allowed to grow without the guidance of an established governing body.

Enforce a cooling off period

Helping patients to make the right decision regarding their cosmetic surgery procedures should be at the forefront of all policy. By enforcing a cooling off period between the initial consultation and the surgery, patients will have time to truly consider the procedure and build more realistic expectations. Since the Royal College of Surgeons launched its information hub for cosmetic surgery patients, there is no reason for patients not to be informed of the nature of their surgery. This, in turn, should allow patients to build more realistic expectations.

Ensure all surgeons have sufficient indemnity insurance

One of the ways that patients can benefit from reduced price cosmetic surgery is to take advantage of a “fly in fly out” surgeon from Europe or further afield. As cosmetic surgery is a private procedure, there are no regulations preventing surgeons from outside of the UK from carrying out surgery in the UK. Unfortunately, this means that not all surgeons have the right level of professional indemnity insurance, and it can be difficult to file a claim against a surgeon once they have left the UK.

Keep accurate records

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), Association of Breast Surgery (ABS) and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) recently announced a joint venture to build a register of breast implants in the UK. Not only would this help the industry to be more reactive to potential problems, but it could also help to further technological advances.

Ensure all surgeons are registered

In 2016, the Royal College of Surgeons introduced a new certification which is hoped will help to instil confidence in surgeons and encourage patients to seek out a higher standard of care. In order to register, doctors must be on the General Medical Council’s specialist register to prove that they are sufficiently qualified.

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