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Plans launched to make cosmetic surgery safer

Doctors must demonstrate appropriate skills

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 23 January 2015

Surgeons offering cosmetic surgery will have to prove they are up to standard, under new proposals published today. 

Under the plans drawn up by the Royal College of Surgeons, surgeons working in the private sector will have to prove they meet new standards of training to be certified and included on a register. This will be publicly available to employers and patients so they can make informed decisions.  

To obtain certification, surgeons will have to be on the General Medical Council’s specialist register in the area of training that covers the operations they wish to perform.  

They will also need to demonstrate they have:

  • undertaken a minimum number of procedures within the relevant region of the body in a facility recognised by the health regulator;
  • the appropriate professional skills to undertake cosmetic surgery; and
  • provide evidence of the quality of their surgical outcomes.

Certification will only permit surgeons working in the private sector to undertake cosmetic surgery on the areas of the body that relates to the speciality they trained in. 

The proposals should offer greater protection to patients who will be able to check if their surgeon is listed on an approved register.

The Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC), which was set up by the Royal College of Surgeons in 2013, proposes that patients considering paying for cosmetic surgery privately – where they choose to have an operation for aesthetic, rather than medical reasons – should have access to clear, unbiased and credible information about their surgeon, care provider, procedure and likely outcomes. 

The vast majority of cosmetic surgery takes place in the private sector. Currently, a surgeon must be registered and licensed by the GMC to undertake such procedures. However, there is no common qualification available for those performing cosmetic surgery because it covers a number of surgical areas.

Commenting on the proposals, Mr Stephen Cannon, Chair of the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “We are determined to ensure there are the same rigorous standards for patients undergoing cosmetic surgery in the UK as other types of surgery.

“This consultation provides the next step in establishing clear and high standards for training and practice so that all surgeons in the UK are certified to the same level, irrespective of where they trained.

“We want patients, surgeons and providers of cosmetic surgery to respond to this consultation and give us their views so we can develop these new standards.”

The CSIC was set up by the Royal College of Surgeons following Sir Bruce Keogh’s Review of the Regulations of Cosmetic Interventions. This looked at surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions and found that “the existing regulatory framework has not kept pace with changes and it does not provide enough protection against many of the potential risks from cosmetic procedures.”

Although nine out of ten cosmetic interventions are non-surgical, the Keogh Review recommended that the Royal College of Surgeons should establish a Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) to take forward its recommendations relating to the regulation of cosmetic surgery.

The consultation is open until 6 March 2015.

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