News that the government is going to allow the cosmetic surgery industry to police itself has been criticised by Which?.
Ministers have been accused of ‘bottling out’ after they said the industry would be allowed to set up a scheme to regulate itself.
Announcing the plan, Health Minister Lord Hunt said: ‘Cosmetic surgery providers have shown real commitment to improving levels of quality and safety in this area and so I have decided to ask the industry to take the lead in further improving standards. I am very pleased that they have accepted this challenge.’
Lord Hunt added that a review would be carried out to assess the scheme’s effectiveness and said statutory regulations had not been ruled out.
But Which? health campaigner Jenny Driscoll said government regulation for the cosmetic treatments industry is essential.
She added: ‘How disappointing that it’s decided to bottle out and simply leave it up to the cosmetic treatments industry to make itself safe.
‘There’s an increasingly casual approach to non-surgical treatments – just look at Botox parties, where people are encouraged to drink champagne before going under the needle. This is a boom sector and our concern is that the rush to make money may result in some businesses cutting corners.
‘The government needs to step in now because, left to regulate itself, it’d be all too easy for the industry to focus on introducing multiple codes that will just end up confusing people.
‘We’ll be keeping a close eye on the industry and calling on the government to take further action if needed.’
Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, head of a working group representing more than 90 per cent of private cosmetic surgery firms, said it had called on the government two years ago to introduce tighter rules.
He said: ‘There is no question that better control of these facilities is needed. We are talking about invasive procedures. Botox is a prescription-only medicine and patient safety should be paramount.
‘If things go wrong, some patients could be left scarred physically or psychologically for life.
‘As it stands now, almost anyone can set up shop in the local high street, don a white coat and start offering dermal fillers or arranging Botox parties. If we, the industry, don’t step in, these procedures will be less-regulated than ear-piercing.’
Last week, Which? launched an online cosmetic treatment guide which offers people independent, unbiased advice on cosmetic treatments.