AAPG demands closure of toxin ‘loophole’ during lockdown

20 Jun 2020

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing (APPG BAW) has written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to express ‘serious concern’ about the ‘loophole’ that allows medical services to offer botulinum toxin and other aesthetics treatments during lockdown.

Co-chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, the APPG BAW stated that Government guidance is clear that the beauty industry should remain closed due to risks to public health.

In the letter the APPG BAW highlights that guidance on Closing certain businesses and venues in England gives an exemption for ‘other medical or health services’ and only states that, ‘services which involve healthcare need to take into account any advice or guidance issued by… the relevant professional body’.

Harris and Cummins said, “We are extremely concerned by reports that some medical practices are providing Botox and other aesthetics treatments, while Government guidance states that the beauty industry should remain closed at this stage. The loophole created by the lack of clarity in the current guidance on the undertaking of beauty or aesthetics treatments in medical practices presents a serious health and safety risk to practitioners and customers.”

They added, “It is crucial that the Government sets out clear and consistent rules that everyone must abide by, whether a practitioner operating in a salon, an aesthetics clinic, a medical practice, or as a mobile worker. Any inconsistencies and confusion not only present a public safety risk, but also risk harming consumer confidence as the beauty industry looks to reopen.”

The APPG BAW states in the letter that the lack of clarity created by the Government’s guidance creates a ‘loophole’ and has led to ‘some aesthetic practice to flout the rules and prematurely offer treatments, many of whom are acting on the misguided advice of professional bodies’.

The General Medical Council said in recent advice to the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners, “We expect doctors to use their professional judgment when interpreting what is meant by ‘other medical or health services’, and whether there is a genuine medical or health need for treatment which would permit their business to reopen. The standards we set continue to apply during the pandemic and we expect all doctors to act responsibly and reasonably in response to the circumstances they face.”

In May the British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) gained legal opinion of a QC working in public law that supported aesthetic doctors offering such treatments as a ‘medical service’. In a statement, the BCAM said they welcome the work of the AAPG. They said, “The objectives of the College and its members are identical to those expressed by the APPG in that we strive to enhance patient safety by improving education and training for doctors and by setting and raising standards for the delivery of aesthetic medical treatments by qualified healthcare professionals.”

The BCAM added, “As a College, BCAM is committed to advancing safe and ethical aesthetic medical treatments to the benefit of patients, educating members of the public and providing support, education and training to its members. Our values are aligned to the guidance of the GMC, GDC and Government, which we continually monitor and update. Non-surgical cosmetic procedures should be properly regulated and only be carried out by qualified and trained medical, dental or nursing professionals.”

The APPG has requested an urgent meeting with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to discuss the matter further.

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