The recent PIP implants controversy has raised more concerns about regulation, operation and standards within the cosmetic surgery industry. In the UK, the Guardian newspaper has recently highlighted private cosmetic clinics that employ surgeons to carry out breast enlargements, nose jobs and tummy tucks who do not hold qualifications as plastic surgeons within the NHS
The recent PIP implants controversy has raised more concerns about regulation, operation and standards within the cosmetic surgery industry. In the UK, the Guardian newspaper has recently highlighted private cosmetic clinics that employ surgeons to carry out breast enlargements, nose jobs and tummy tucks who do not hold qualifications as plastic surgeons within the NHS (Private cosmetic clinics employing 'unqualified' surgeons). There are also concerns about the quality standards and practices of cosmetic surgery clinics both within the UK and across Europe. A new European Standard on Aesthetic Surgery Services represents a significant move to address these shortcomings.
In general, cosmetic and plastic surgeons who carry out cosmetic surgery at one of the private hospitals owned by UK groups such as Nuffield, BMI and Spire hospitals will hold an NHS consultant position, usually in Plastic Surgery or ENT Surgery - NHS consultants who do some private cosmetic surgery work. In contrast, many of the surgeons working for the cosmetic surgery chains such as Transform, Harley Medical Group and the Hospital Group are not NHS consultants.
The British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has raised concerns about the influx of cosmetic surgeons into the UK from Europe. The BAAPS President told the Guardian, "We very often get applicants from Europe. Although they automatically get on the specialist register, the quality of training they have had is in no way equivalent to a trainee in the UK and they are often not deemed suitable for an NHS post".
According to Transform, "Qualifications obtained in other parts of Europe are at least the equal to those obtained in the UK" and said it was "completely untrue and highly misinformed" to suggest otherwise.
In June 2011, the European Commission published a Green Paper, “Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive”. This Directive, adopted in 2005, sets the rules for mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Member States. Consultation on this paper has now closed.
Many businesses, clinics and doctors working in the cosmetic surgery sector across Europe are still blissfully unaware of what’s coming their way – a European Standard on Aesthetic Surgery Services.
CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) is currently running a public consultation on the draft of this standard. The aim of the consultation process is to develop a European best practice standard for surgeons, doctors and nurses in private healthcare facilities that offer cosmetic procedures. As may be seen from its title, the standard is primarily concerned with “services”, rather than with products or devices (such as breast implants).
When the final standard is released in 2013, it will result in:
In terms of scope, both surgical and non-surgical medical services are included. It provides recommendations for procedures for clinical treatment, including the ethical framework and general principles according to which clinical services are provided by all aesthetic practitioners. Dentistry procedures are excluded. Cosmetic non-medical procedures (e.g. tattoos, piercing) provided by non-doctors (e.g. beauticians, masseurs, hairdressers) in non-medical facilities (such as spas, salons) are excluded from the scope of the European Standard.
A copy of the draft European Standard 16372 is available from the national standardisation bodies of each EU state and the EFTA member states, Croatia and Turkey. You are able to submit comments on the draft standard to your national standards body.
So, if you are involved in cosmetic surgery in Europe, now’s the time to “have your say” on the new aesthetic surgery standard.
I am Executive Chairman of LaingBuisson International Ltd, a major provider of healthcare business intelligence. Our websites include International Medical Travel Journal, Treatment Abroad, the medical tourism portal, DoctorInternet, the Arabic medical tourism portal and Private Healthcare UK, the UK's leading site for private healthcare services. I am a regular speaker and commentator on medical tourism and the independent healthcare sector.