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DH launches review of cosmetic procedures

National implant register may be reinstated

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The government has today launched a national review of the regulation of cosmetic procedures that may lead to tighter restrictions on the cosmetic surgery industry.

The move follows the scandal over PIP breast implants which came to light last year.

Around 47,000 women in the UK are thought to have received the former French manufacturer PIP’s breast implants, which were found to contain non-medical grade silicon, prompting concerns about their safety.

More than 7,500 women who had implants made by PIP have been referred to NHS specialists by their GPs to see if they should have them removed as a precautionary step.

The new review, called for by health secretary Andrew Lansley, will be led by the NHS medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and an expert panel that will look at the best way to protect patients having cosmetic interventions.

Several issues will make up the review including whether or not the right amount of regulation is in place, if people have the right amount of information before going through with surgery and how to make sure patients get the right aftercare.

The health secretary has also asked the review to consider a national implant register, for products such as breast implants and other medical devices.

People are being asked to give their views on, and share their experiences of, the cosmetic surgery industry and cosmetic procedures in the review’s call for evidence.

The Department of Health launched the review alongside results from a survey that it commissioned, which showed that many people consider the cost of surgery more important than the qualifications of the people doing it, or how they will be looked after.

The survey of 1,762 people found that 67% of people questioned considered cost as a factor when deciding whether or not to have cosmetic surgery, but only around half (54% for surgery) took the qualifications of their practitioner into consideration.

Professor Keogh said: “The recent problems with PIP breast implants have shone a light on the cosmetic surgery industry.  Many questions have been raised, particularly around the regulation of clinics, whether all practitioners are adequately qualified, how well people are advised when money is changing hands, aggressive marketing techniques, and what protection is available when things go wrong.

“I am concerned that too many people do not realise how serious cosmetic surgery is and do not consider the life-long implications – and potential complications - it can have. That’s why I have put together this review committee to advise me in making recommendations to government on how we can better protect people who choose to have surgery or cosmetic interventions.”

The team of experts, which will make recommendations to the government by next March, include Andrew Vallance-Owen, former medical director of BUPA.

Catherine Kydd, campaigner on PIP implants, Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, emeritus professor of health law, ethics and policy at University College London, and Dr Rosemary Leonard, GP and media doctor.

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