Last month, MPs voted in favour of the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill 2019-21 following its second reading at the House of Commons. Brought to Parliament by MP for Sevenoaks Laura Trott after numerous consultations with industry professionals, the Bill aims to:1
- Make it an offence to administer botulinum toxin or a ‘subcutaneous, submucous or intradermal injection of a filler for a cosmetic purpose’ to those under 18
- Make business owners liable if a ‘person other than an approved person’ administers botulinum toxin or a ‘subcutaneous, submucous or intradermal injection of a filler for a cosmetic purpose’ to those under 18
- Make corporate bodies liable if the offence is proved to have been committed with consent of ‘any director, manager or secretary of the body corporate or any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity’
It will now move to the committee stage of Parliament where clauses may be added and points will be considered by MPs in the House of Commons line-by-line (Figure 1).
MP Edward Argar, Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), also gave his support and noted that the DHSC is exploring a range of options for increased oversight of practitioners, including a system of registration or licensing.
The developments have been hugely celebrated by members of the aesthetic community, with Dr Uliana Gout, president of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine saying, “This is a welcomed step toward long-overdue tightening of regulation surrounding the accessibility of aesthetic interventions, particularly from non-medically qualified practitioners. BCAM fully endorses the Private Member’s Bill and increased regulation in our specialty.”
The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners also welcomed this update, with executive chair Professor David Sines commenting, “We are at a pivotal point in the debate about regulation in the aesthetics sector and we are really encouraged by the interest shown by Parliament.” The JCCP also stated that it is of the opinion nothing less than statutory registration for all practising cosmetic practitioners should become a legislative requirement in the UK to afford public protection and patient safety and set out a 15-point plan for Government to utilise, detailed on our website.2
What will the regulation mean?
If the Children’s Bill comes into force, treatment with toxin or filler in under 18s will be allowed if a medical professional can demonstrate a medical need for the procedure, for example for migraines. As non-medics cannot make a medical diagnosis, it will ultimately mean that they will be acting illegally if they treat anyone under the age of 18 with toxin or filler, for any purpose.
According to the Bill, medical professionals will not be liable if they can demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to establish the patient’s age and reasonably believed they were aged 18 or over. Should the Bill become law, regulation will be enforced by local authorities that will be able to issue unlimited fines.
After highlighting not only the physical risk, but also the psychological concerns with carrying out cosmetic enhancements on under 18s, MP Trott received unanimous support from her peers on the introduction of the Bill.
Concerns were, however, raised with the fact that the regulation would only apply in England, leaving unscrupulous practitioners able to carry out toxin or filler treatment on under 18s in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland without repercussion, while also allowing the possibility of children travelling to these countries for treatment.
MP Simon Baynes for Clwyd South, a border town between England and Wales, had particular concerns with this. As a result, other MPs offered their support to work together and with the devolved parliamentary assemblies to introduce regulation in the other UK countries too. The JCCP commented, “The JCCP believes that this is now the time for the UK Government, in association with the devolved Governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to take positive and assertive action to introduce legislation to protect the public in the interests of consumer and patient safety.”
There was also significant discussion from MPs regarding the influence of social media on under 18’s desire to undergo aesthetic treatment. MP Trott said that unfortunately, “My Bill will deal with the symptoms of the problem, but not necessarily the cause,” before emphasising the need to support MP Dr Luke Evans’ work on social media regulation. MP Dr Evans is leading on a Bill that, if passed, will force advertisers and publishers to display logos to alert people of any images of a human body or body part that have been digitally altered. The Bill is due for a second reading on January 29 2021.3
MP Trott then emphasised that the issues discussed today do not just apply to young people, but those of all ages. She said that across the sector more attention needs to be given to the importance of consultations, accountability and minimum qualification levels for aesthetic practitioners.
MP Trott also noted that these discussions were not an ‘attack on the industry’, saying, “There are so many providers that are doing this well, looking after the people they are treating. But we must stop the ones who aren’t. We must make sure patients are protected and this must be true for people of all ages.”
In response, MP Argar concluded, “I hope this important Bill will receive the whole-hearted support of the House… this is an ever-expanding multi-million-pound industry and there is more work to be done to ensure it operates in a safe way. The physical and psychological implications of cosmetic procedures are not to be underestimated and need careful consideration.”
MPs present then voted unanimously ‘aye’ in support of the Bill. A date for the committee stage is yet to be set.
1. Parliament, Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill 2019-21 (UK: Parliamentary Business, 2020) <https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/botulinumtoxinandcosmeticfillerschildren.html>
2. Aesthetics journal, ‘JCCP releases plan to improve regulation in aesthetics’, October 20 2020 <https://aestheticsjournal.com/news/jccp-releases-plan-to-improve-regulation-in-aesthetics-1>
3. Parliament, Digitally Altered Body Images Bill 2019-21 (UK: Parliamentary Business, 2020)