GMC releases guidance for cosmetic doctors

12 Apr 2016

The General Medical Council (GMC) has today released its new guidance directed at doctors who perform cosmetic procedures in the UK to ensure patient safety in surgical and non-surgical procedures.

The new GMC guidance will come into effect on June 1 and says that doctors must advertise and market services responsibly, give patients time for reflection, seek a patient’s consent themselves, provide continuity of care and support patient safety.

The chair of the GMC, Professor Terence Stephenson, said, “Our new guidance is designed to help drive up standards in the cosmetic industry and make sure all patients, and especially those who are most vulnerable, are given the care, treatment and support they need.”

He continued, “Cosmetic interventions should not be entered into lightly or without serious considerations. Above all, patients considering whether to have such a procedure need honest and straightforward advice, which allows them to understand the risks as well as the possible benefits.”

The guidance follows the release of the Keogh Review by national medical director of the NHS, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh in 2013, which highlighted the risks associated with cosmetic interventions and the need for greater patient protection.

“The independent review I chaired, following the PIP breast implant scandal, highlighted major problems with unsafe practices in the cosmetic sector, including poor follow-up care and record keeping, and misleading and inappropriate advertising and marketing techniques,” Professor Keogh said, adding that the new guidance “addresses these issues and will drive safer care, more ethical practice and, overall, a better experience for people undergoing cosmetic procedures. It will also help ensure doctors are seen to be open and honest, that they work within their competence and seek appropriate training and advice where necessary.”

To produce these guidelines, the GMC has worked closely with the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), which is also publishing its own set of standards for cosmetic surgery today.

Vice president of the RCS, Mr Stephen Cannon, said, “The message to surgeons and doctors working in the cosmetic surgery industry is simple: if you are not working to the surgical standards we have set out today, you should not be treating patients at all.”

The GMC’s new guidance for doctors carrying out cosmetic guidance was developed following a public consultation held between June and September 2015 and has been welcomed by Health Minister Ben Gummer, who said, “Anyone who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure should expect to have high quality and safe clinical care. This new guidance for doctors is an important step forward in improving standards and ending the lottery of poor practice in parts of the cosmetic industry.”

Many industry practitioners are also welcoming the new guidance and believe it is a step in the right direction for the industry. Miss Caroline Mills from The Face Surgeons in London said, “The new self-regulation framework is an important step to ensure agreed professional standards for facial surgeons working across the healthcare sector."


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  • Dr Eldimarys Curry-Machado 19 Apr 2016 / 7:29 AM

    It would be on good practice and for patient safety interest to stablish regulations on those who perform aesthetics procedure without having a medical degree, the CQC does not have any regulation on them when they shouldn't be allowed to do it in the first place.