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RCS disappointed professional regulation not included in Queen's speech

27 May 2015

The Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has expressed disappointment that the Queen’s speech did not include legislation to protect patients undergoing cosmetic surgery.

The RCS had called for the General Medical Council (GMC) to be given a new power to tell the public and employers which surgeons are qualified to undertake cosmetic surgery, but it was not included in any of the Bills announced in the Queen’s Speech today. At present, the law allows any doctor (including non-surgeons) to perform cosmetic surgery without undertaking additional training or qualifications.

Mr David Ward, Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to supporting the NHS’ Five Year Forward View and seven-day care, as outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

“However, we are very disappointed that the Government has further delayed necessary changes to the regulation of health professionals. This was widely supported and would have allowed a change in the law to protect patients undergoing cosmetic surgery.

“Without it, it will be difficult for patients and employers to be able to tell a proficient cosmetic surgeon from a professional who has limited recognised experience.

“The RCS is determined to improve standards of cosmetic surgery for patients in this country, but the GMC needs the power to help enforce them. We will continue undeterred with our proposals for new standards of training for cosmetic surgeons and will lobby the government for this change in the law.”

The Department of Health asked the Law Commissions to draft legislation to update professional regulation, including for cosmetic surgery. This was published in 2014, and was widely supported but the coalition Government, and now this Government, has chosen not to enact the legislation.

Following the PIP breast implant scandal and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of cosmetic surgery, the Royal College of Surgeons is drafting new standards of training and practice to correct this.

The College will introduce a new system of certification to identify those surgeons that have the appropriate skills and experience to provide cosmetic surgery. However, it will be much more difficult for the GMC to enforce this without a change in the law. However, without this change in the law, it does not have the power to allow employers and the public to check in advance of a cosmetic procedure whether a surgeon is competent to perform the operation.

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.

020 7869 6047/6052

Out-of hours: 07966 486 832


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