Charity for non-medics launches

02 Aug 2019

The Association of Cosmetic Practitioners of Britain (ACPB) has been approved by the Charities Commission, meaning that it now has official charity status with registered charity number 1184629.

In a statement released by the not-for-profit organisation, which is made up of professionals from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, it explains that one of the key objectives of the charity is to ‘promote health, safety and protection of the general public in the United Kingdom through the developments of the highest standards of practice among non-surgical cosmetic practitioners with special focus on injectables’.

The ACPB also states that it will aim to provide regulation through the maintenance of a voluntary register and advance the education of the general public in the field of non-surgical cosmetic treatments. According to the association, it will create an inspectorate which will monitor and police standards for the public benefit; all visible on an upgraded website, subject to available funding.

As well as this, the ACPB says that it will register non-medical aesthetic practitioners and bind them to a code of conduct which focuses on public safety. It will also feature a complaints and disciplinary procedure that allows for the general public’s information to be used to expel non-competent practitioners, the company explains.

Maxine Hopley, a founding trustee of the organisation commented, “I can help raise standards, push for licensing and accreditation and provide non-medics with a voice and a vehicle for higher standards, training and support. As a charity we are publicly accountable and independent so the industry can support us and show that this is the best way to have a register, an inspectorate and increased public safety.”

However, a number of medically-qualified aesthetic practitioners, as well as independent accreditation body Save Face, which is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), have expressed concern.

Clinical director of Save Face and nurse prescriber Emma Davies said, “The organisation’s recently announced charitable status, unfortunately, does not serve to add to its credibility, nor will it raise public awareness or standards, just by claiming it is its mission to do so. The data Save Face has gathered and continues to gather, illustrates a pattern of behaviours amongst lay people providing these treatments that cannot be addressed merely by the formation of such a register. Government and regulators cannot recommend the public use or trust such a register, unless it achieves accreditation with the PSA.”

The PSA is an independent statutory body for regulators and accredited registers, accountable to Parliament that promotes the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, service users and the public, by raising standards of regulation and voluntary registration of people working in health and care.

Davies added, “Save Face recognises members of the public continue to exercise their right to choose who provides treatment to them, which is a choice the government respects. Our best course of action in the current regulatory climate is to focus on distinguishing ourselves; in our professionalism, ethics, practice standards and behaviour and getting behind the voluntary registers who can serve to educate and influence consumer choices, work with regulators and importantly, gather credible data to inform any future regulation.”

Nurse prescriber and chair of the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) Sharon Bennett agreed with this standpoint, “We question the validity of any organisation such as ACPB, whether it be a charitable body or not, which has been set up on behalf of non-medical therapists and which purport to advise and protect the public who are looking to undergo a cosmetic medical treatment. Having charitable status does not give any kudos or enable it’s unregulated cosmetic practitioners to reassure or give confidence to the general public that they are adequately educated and able to deliver accountable, competent, controlled and safe appropriate treatments,” she said.

Nurse practitioner and independent medical sector analyst Constance Campion argued, “I have not read the governing document of this charity, but I can already see from the press release issued by the ACPB, that it could be argued that the organisations’ activities are contrary to patient safety and the public good. Any registered charity in the UK must fulfil legal criteria, and amongst several undertakings which the charity must be able to display, are the charity’s purposes. The law states that charities are organisations that have exclusively charitable purposes, and they must demonstrate that they operate for the public benefit. The benefit aspect of this charity however, is not balanced against the detriment or harm in accordance with the two most important public benefit aspects, as set out in The Charities Act 2011.”

She continued, “In my opinion, the ACPB’s statement appears to mask the known evidenced facts. For example, the use of the title non-surgical cosmetic practitioner is a misnomer, which is ambiguous and misleading for patients and the general public. And moreover, whilst injectables may be non-surgical procedures that are geared towards a cosmetic purpose as the end point, they are nonetheless invasive medical treatments that have systemic clinical effects, which carry with them serious medical risks. This can lead to complications which are detrimental to patients.”

Campion concluded, “Patients and the public must be confident that they can be assessed, consented, undergo those procedures and be managed by medically-trained professionals who fulfil the statutory criteria that doctors, dentists and nurses can demonstrate, in accordance with the legal standard in the UK. There is no basis in medicine, nursing or dentistry or indeed in law for prescribing, supplying or delegating non-surgical medical aesthetic procedures to beauty therapists. Therefore, in respect of this particular charity, the Charity Commission, and even government itself, can be challenged.”

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