Tuesday, April 19, 2016

UK - Addenbrooke’s consultant says new plastic surgery guidance for doctors is ‘long overdue’

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New guidance for all doctors working in cosmetic surgery telling them what is acceptable practice is "long overdue", according to an Addenbrooke's consultant.

Cosmetic surgeons could be struck off the medical register if they fail to follow strict new rules on consent and promotional deals published by the General Medical Council (GMC) last week.

It says doctors must show they "work in line with the principles and values" set out in the guidance and that "serious or persistent failure" to follow it will put their registration at risk.

The guidance covers surgical and non-surgical procedures, such as facelifts, breast implants and Botox, and is backed by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

"Due to a lack of regulation the cosmetic sector is inconsistent in the quality of care delivered to patients and lacking in robust measures to ensure quality and safety," he said. "Most people seeking cosmetic treatments make the assumption that regulation is already in place and that their safety is a given, unfortunately that's simply not the case."

Mr Abood said the lack of regulation and accreditation of people carrying out cosmetic procedures is "a significant public health issue".

"Unfortunately, it's an issue that only seems to be presented to the general public when something disastrous happens, such as the woeful lapse in product quality that occurred with the PIP breast implant scandal, or when a celebrity has a procedure that goes badly wrong," he said.

"In reality, these sorts of things happen relatively frequently and ultimately are inevitable when such poor regulation and controls exists across a multi-billion pound industry with numerous interested parties."

The guidelines say doctors must make sure patients are given enough time and information before they decide whether to have a procedure and patients should not feel rushed or pressured - something which Mr Abood agrees with.

"When someone feels pressurized to make a decision they can make the wrong one," he said. "With something as important as choosing to have surgery, or any other treatment, a patient needs time to gather information which includes checking the credentials of the practitioner.

"They need time to reflect upon whether or not the decision to have a treatment is right for them and to ensure they understand what's involved, the risks and limitations. It's also important that a patient feels comfortable with the person delivering the treatment and with the environment in which they're being treated."

The RCS is also calling on the Government to introduce new legal powers to "give teeth" to new plans to tell patients which doctors are certified to carry out cosmetic surgery.

Under the new GMC guidance, doctors must not offer patients "two-for-one" deals or other promotions and prizes, nor make "unjustifiable claims about interventions". They must also seek their patients' consent to a procedure rather than delegating this to somebody else.

But Richard Price consultant plastic surgeon at Addenbrooke's and Nuffield Hospitals, said while these regulations were welcome, they did not cover dentists, beauty practioners or companies.

"It only covers the doctors," he said. "And in terms of all the adverts for two for one offers that are around, the guidance is not for companies. The doctors are not generally speaking the ones offering the two for ones.I would like to see the whole industry regulated.

"But for beauticians, it does say in the guidance doctors should examine patients they are prescribing for. Hopefully that will slow that down a bit now and doctors have to see the patients to be able to prescribe."

By Freya Leng

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