Change in the law ‘urgently needed’ to protect patients undergoing cosmetic surgery
19 Oct 2016
The Royal College of Surgeons has backed calls from an MP, and his constituents, for a change in the law to protect patients undergoing cosmetic surgery.
Kevan Jones, the Labour MP for North Durham, will today introduce a ten minute rule bill to the House of Commons to boost the regulation of cosmetic surgery. The RCS has previously called for such legislation to protect patients.
The cosmetic surgery industry is booming - last year over 51,0001 cosmetic surgery procedures were performed in the private sector in England. Yet currently, any doctor – surgeon or otherwise – can legally perform cosmetic surgery in the private sector. To help correct this, the RCS will launch a new system of certification later this year so patients can find a certified surgeon, who has the appropriate training, experience and insurance to carry out a specific procedure - such as a tummy tuck or nose job.
However, the RCS believes the government should also give the doctors’ regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC), a new regulatory power to mandatorily highlight to the public and employers which surgeons have been certified by the RCS to carry out cosmetic surgery. This would give the certification system extra teeth and regulatory backing.
Mr Stephen Cannon, who has led the Royal College of Surgeons’ work on cosmetic surgery, said:
“Many people do not realise that the law currently allows any doctor - surgeon or otherwise - to perform cosmetic surgery in the private sector. There are many excellent surgeons working in the cosmetic surgery industry however it is difficult for patients to identify these experienced, highly trained surgeons from those who should not be practising.
“To correct this, we will launch a new system of certification later this year which will help patients to find a certified surgeon, who has the appropriate training, experience and insurance to carry out a procedure.
“Giving the professional regulator, the GMC, the power to annotate its register of doctors, will give our certification system extra teeth and regulatory backing. The Government needs to urgently change the law.”
Known as a ‘Ten Minute Rule Motion’, Mr Jones MP is expected to call for a Bill to make provision for the training, qualifications and certification of medical practitioners conducting cosmetic surgical procedures; to establish a code of practice for the provision of information to patients on the options and risks in relation to such procedures; and to make provision about permissible treatments and the advertising of such treatments.
The Royal College of Surgeons and Mr Jones have campaigned for better protections for patients following stories such as that of Mrs Dawn Knight, who lives in his constituency. She has been left unable to close her eyes, even to sleep at night, after undergoing botched eye surgery and has been forced to seek corrective treatment on the NHS.
Mrs Knight said:
“This 10 minute rule motion is the next important step towards pushing the government to do something about the desperate state the cosmetic industry in the UK is in. You have “fly-in fly-out” doctors calling themselves surgeons operating on every area of the body and unscrupulous companies freely allowing them to operate within their facilities, unregulated.
“Yet when things go wrong, and they do, they have no responsibility and simply walk away, leaving the utter devastation firmly at the door of our NHS.
“This industry cannot continue for one more day without the much needed changes the RCS are calling for. If the CQC and GMC are really there to protect the public please give them the powers they need, but furthermore make it law that all surgeons must produce a valid insurance policy annually.
“The fight will go on until the changes this country needs to see within this industry are made.”
Following Sir Bruce Keogh’s Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions, the Royal College of Surgeons was asked to set up a Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) to make cosmetic surgery safer for patients.
In response to this, and in consultation with members of the CSIC, the Royal College of Surgeons published new Professional Standards for Cosmetic Surgery in April. These stipulate that only surgeons with the appropriate training and experience should undertake cosmetic surgery, as well as the ethics and behaviour expected of them.
The RCS also recently published information for people who are considering cosmetic surgery on its website. In the coming months, it will also be launching the new certification system for surgeons - which will help patients to identify a surgeon with the appropriate training and experience to perform a specific procedure, in different parts of the country.
Notes to editors
1. The new patient resources for people considering cosmetic surgery can be viewed on the Royal College of Surgeons’ website here: www.rcseng.ac.uk/patient-care/cosmetic-surgery/
2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.
3. Mr Stephen Cannon was chair of the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee. Membership of the CSIC and its sub-groups has included representatives of the relevant specialty associations including: the Association of Breast Surgery (ABS), The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS), The British Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) and The British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists (ENT-UK). It also included: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth), The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), patients (including the RCS Patient Liaison Group and The Patient Information Forum), Academy of British Cosmetic Practice, Association of Independent Healthcare (AIHO), Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), Regulators (General Medical Council, Care Quality Commission), NHS Choices, Psychologists, The Departments of Health in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Scottish Health and Social Care Directorate (as observers).
4. For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office on: 020 7869 6052/6047; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org