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.
Regulating the cosmetic surgeons
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
In June 2011, the European Commission published a Green
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.
Regulating the cosmetic clinics.... The European Standard on Aesthetic
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
- Improvement in aesthetic surgery services
through enhancing patient safety and avoiding the risk of complications and
patient criticism about poor services;
- Adoption of consistently high standards for
aesthetic surgery providers across Europe;
- Enhancement of patient satisfaction and reduced
criticism of poor service delivery.
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
Find out about the new 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.
clinics: You can view and comment on the new standard on the British Standards Institute web site.
Search on either: “Aesthetics surgery services”, or the draft standard number:
“prEN 16372”. This will take you through to a "Draft details" option.
You will then be asked to register with the site. After that you can make
comments on a clause by clause basis.
clinics: Other member countries within CEN are also running public
consultations, and for details of how to take part, you should contact your NSB
(National Standardisation 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.
Date published: 9 February 2012
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