Since Sir Bruce Keogh carried out a review of the cosmetic surgery industry, published in 2013, that called for a greater need of regulation, various initiatives have been announced.
Now, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has declared that, in pursuit of greater transparency, the powers of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be extended to rate cosmetic surgery clinics.
The CQC currently monitors and inspects healthcare facilities in the UK and, up till now, has provided ratings for NHS Trusts, independent hospitals and GP surgeries. The aim is to expand this to cosmetic surgery providers to improve patient safety; the ratings encompass ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and, finally, ‘inadequate’.
Hunt was quoted as saying: “Anyone who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure should have high quality and safe care – and that’s why we have a tough regulator in place to help people make an informed decision.”
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), of which I’m a member, is the largest independent association representing plastic surgeons issued a comment on this new announcement: “We welcome, indeed, have been calling for during the last decade – as much Government scrutiny as is possible of the cosmetic sector. This is an arena where regulation has historically been lax and many practitioners can engage in procedures they are not trained or even qualified to perform.”
However, there was a caveat to their support; the CQC regulates clinics rather than the surgeon and focuses on such aspects as equipment and record-keeping. As important as those aspects are, the most important decision you can make when about to undergo cosmetic surgery is your choice of surgeon.
Choosing the right cosmetic surgeon
Before going ahead with an op, then you have to ascertain whether your surgeon has the relevant qualifications and experience:
- All medical practitioners practicing in the UK should be on the register of the General Medical Council (GMC). Furthermore, the register will indicate whether they are qualified as a plastic surgeon which means they have undergone years of specialist training in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures.
- Whilst the younger generation of Plastic Surgeons have had to take an exit specialty exam at the end of their training (since 1996) for which they will have the qualification FRCS(Plast) added after their name, I completed my formal training in Plastic Surgery before then through a rigorous system termed Accreditation of The Royal Colleges of Surgeons. This was the same as the modern approval and Plastic Surgeons of my experience and seniority therefore simply have FRCS after their name, despite having that much more experience and having in fact taught the younger generation of surgeons much of what they know*. Confirmation of my full standing is reflected in my place on the General Medical Council Specialty Register in Plastic Surgery, which you can quite easily check, my GMC number being 1545391.
- Currently, holds or has held a position as a consultant plastic surgeon in the NHS, which conveys at least some (see above and below) practical experience in performing cosmetic surgery procedures. I led, expanded and developed the Plastic Surgical Service for Coventry & Warwickshire over 20 years and was its Director for 10.
- They are a member of one of the independent plastic surgery associations in the UK, such as the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (BAAPS) or British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). I am a Member of both.
During your consultation your surgeon should be very clear on their experience, qualifications and suitability to perform cosmetic surgery. To arrange a cosmetic surgery consultation at my Leamington Spa, Coventry or Rugby clinics, call 01926 436341.
* It is relevant to add that at the time of my training, very much more (perfectly justifiable) Cosmetic Surgery was carried out on the NHS, compared to the current very low levels owing to financial pressures, and I therefore received a much more comprehensive training in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and over a longer period than is available to trainees today. The breadth and depth of that training, built on and updated over the years, has stood me in very good stead in the cosmetic aspect of my Practice.