Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday started their own campaign to ‘stop the cosmetic cowboys’. At Mapperley Park Clinic, we are equally frustrated by Government’s approach to the burgeoning cosmetic health industry. And there is nothing new in the situation we see today. We have been campaigning since 1995 for improved regulation when we fed into the Expert Medical Group review into cosmetic medicine and which recommended universal regulation of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The then Labour Government agreed with Sir Liam Donaldson’s recommendations – including improved regulation of injectable and laser treatments – yet, the same government went on to refuse those improvements and indeed, to deregulate the use of lasers in cosmetic procedures.
The PIP scandal (where substandard breast implants were marketed to tens of thousands of women in the UK) caused the current Government to commission a 2012 review of the industry under Sir Bruce Keogh who, responding to wide-spread concerns immediately extended the scope to include injectable and laser procedures. We were asked to submit our own evidence to the review and which included the facts that 1 in 3 of our new consultations related to problems caused elsewhere and that our provision of specialist laser training had reduced by 90% since training ceased to be a mandatory requirement.
Sir Bruce’s findings were quite damning about the ‘grubby practices’ of our industry and made a series of recommendations that put the ball clearly back into Government hands to improve regulation in the sector.
On behalf of Government, Under Secretary of State, Dan Poulter responded by saying “The independent panel has made some far-reaching recommendations, the principles of which I agree with entirely. We will consider the report carefully and respond in detail in the summer.”
We are still waiting – and indeed, a DoH supported conference designed to discuss the implications of Government response went ahead without that response, DoH citing ‘communication window’ issues to explain why the response had been further delayed. We think that it is no coincidence that Mail on Sunday had leaked Government’s response the weekend before – and which response is to do precisely nothing in terms of regulation, despite the Keogh review’s recommendations.
So, Government were pressured by public outrage at the PIP scandal to commission an expensive Review process, which recommendations appear to have been accepted by Government, once again and yet, once again, Government has refused to abide by those recommendations even though it says that it agrees with the principles.
At Mapperley Park, we have been working for over 20 years and have delivered hundreds of thousands of procedures safely and ethically under the regulation of medical professional bodies and the Care Quality Commission. Yet we can only stand by and watch as unregulated providers set up in clinics, salons and even from their own homes purporting to deliver the same services that we deliver – but at lower costs. The fact is that these services are just not comparable. We have over £1 million of equipment in use and decades of experience accrued and yet, unregulated competition can make all the same claims that we make using a £500 laser imported from China and no training, experience or even insurance. No wonder such services are cheap!
So, we are frustrated by Government inaction in an area where all expert medical opinion agrees – the use of medical techniques and technologies should be regulated to ensure public safety and public health. To this end, we have written to local MPs, Health Ministers and local and national media to raise attention to this situation and we call on Government, once again to think again – before we have to travel around the same depressing circle once more and find ourselves reporting to the next Review into safety in the cosmetic treatment industry.