Rogue beauty clinics face crackdownUndercover stings set to catch cowboys

03 August 2006

Undercover surveillance operations are to be set up to crack down on rogue beauty clinics, a health watchdog has revealed.

The Healthcare Commission will use covert surveillance to monitor the estimated 3,000 unregistered clinics which use laser and intense pulsed light therapies.

The watchdog found evidence that women were being disfigured by 'backstreet operators’ who offered improperly administered laser therapy, Botox injections and anti-wrinkle skin fillers.

The Healthcare Commission said it received about 50 complaints a year from people who had been damaged by treatment to remove facial hair and skim blemishes.

The monitoring of unregistered clinics could involve sending in mystery shoppers to check whether they are trading lawfully.

Illegal doctors and clinics

Businesses could be subject to criminal prosecution or the watchdog could apply for an injunction to stop the service operating if it posed a danger to the public.

Kate Lobley, Head of Operations at the Healthcare Commission, said: ‘There are too many people providing healthcare services who are operating outside the law and we have to do something about that. People should steer of clinics and doctors who are operating illegally.’

She said patients should ask to see a certificate of registration if they visited an independent hospital, clinic or laser salon.

In 2004, a Which? investigation into bona fide beauty clinics also unearthed an alarming gap in standards when it came to providing patients with adequate information.

Our undercover researchers visited 16 clinics for consultations about four procedures - Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels and laser treatment. Most practitioners didn't fully explain risks or side effects, some overlooked them completely, and some gave incorrect information.