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DH moves to make cosmetic surgery safer

Review begins into improving governance of cosmetic surgery providers

Louise Prime

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The health secretary has instigated reviews into the governance of cosmetic surgery providers, as debate continues over Poly Implant Prosthèse breast implants.

Labour MP Ann Clwyd yesterday told Parliament that she first raised concerns about silicon breast implants 20 years ago. She called for amendment of the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure “proper regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry, 70% of which is virtually unregulated”, she claimed.

Andrew Lansley announced that NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh will lead an expert review investigating how the effectiveness of regulation can be improved, to ensure the safety of people who have cosmetic surgery such as breast implants and dermal fillers.

Sir Bruce and his group will consider:

  • how the cosmetic sector can improve the quality and safety of care through better governance based on better quality data collection and improved professional development;
  • whether cosmetic products and interventions are appropriately regulated; and if not
  • how regulation of the sector in the UK and in Europe can be improved.
Mr Lansley said investigation into European-level regulation of medical devices is already underway; and he added that the minister for quality, Lord Howe, will be conducting a rapid review of what has happened in the UK.

The health secretary also announced that the Care Quality Commission is undertaking a swift review of private providers of cosmetic surgery, to examine whether or not they “meet essential levels of safety and quality” and provide adequate levels of support to their patients. He said the Commission “has a wide range of enforcement powers that it can use to protect the safety of patients”.

Mr Lansley said: “My concern throughout this situation has been for the safety and wellbeing of all women with PIP implants.

“We have set out how the NHS will help patients affected, and we expect the private sector to do the same.

“We must now go further and this is why I have set out today a number of actions to ensure we learn the lessons, and look at how we can tighten up regulation of the wider cosmetic industry so that this doesn’t happen again.”

But Sally Taber, director of the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services, said: “Patients are feeling more confused and anxious now than ever before. With current Government position remaining unclear, patients want to know the timeline for the further investigations into PIP implants by the MHRA.”

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, said: “The vast majority of practitioners in the cosmetic industry are professional and well skilled – but I’m concerned that the sector as a whole does not have the systems for monitoring the results for patients and alerting us to possible problems.

“I will work with the industry to improve regulation and governance and increase consumer confidence.”

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