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Royal College sets out standards for cosmetic surgeons

From next year surgeons will be able to apply for certification to perform cosmetic procedures

Mark Gould

Monday, 09 November 2015

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has published a new guide to help surgeons and hospitals prepare for changes aimed at driving up standards of care in cosmetic surgery.

From next spring, surgeons will be able to apply to the RCS for "certification" to show they are qualified and competent to perform specific cosmetic procedures. It will enable surgeons to demonstrate they have the right standards of training and experience to carry out cosmetic surgery. It will also provide better protection for patients.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said: "Patients of all ages seeking cosmetic procedures can be vulnerable and they do need to be better protected. This is a great initiative by the College which represents an important step towards a safer system. The GMC is also working with the college to develop a new accreditation scheme which we would approve and would show which doctors have the skills needed to carry out cosmetic procedures.

"Although this will need legislation, we have already banned doctors from prescribing Botox and other injectables to any patient without a face-to-face consultation. Next year, we will publish new guidance aimed at doctors offering cosmetic treatments which will set out the standards we expect. It will also make clear that doctors must allow patients enough time to make a decision about their treatment and that they must market their services responsibly."

All independent clinics and hospitals that provide cosmetic surgery must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to provide services. The Commission says that cosmetic surgery is not a defined surgical speciality and there are no common standards available to surgeons who perform it.

As such, Heidi Smoult, the Deputy Chief Inspector for Hospitals at the CQC, said "any information that protects people and helps them to choose their care is welcome".

"The certification is a sensible step to make the cosmetic surgery sector more transparent and to encourage improvement within the sector. People will be able to look at the CQC's own ratings of independent services that carry out cosmetic surgery alongside the RCS register of accredited surgeons that meet the required standards," she said.

Ms Smoult added that during an inspection, the CQC will take account of the RCS standards and certification system and use this information when making a judgement about the quality and safety of services being provided.

The CQC regulates cosmetic treatments that involve any instrument or equipment (such as an implant) being inserted into the body. This covers procedures such as breast enlargements, laser eye surgery, nose surgery and facelifts. It does not regulate procedures that do not involve a cut to the body or if there is no equipment inserted. This includes procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels or laser hair removal.

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