Tuesday 13th April saw the launch to the aesthetic industry of this much anticipated shared regulation scheme, backed by Government Ministers and with funding from the Department of Health, aimed at screening and registering healthcare professionals (doctors, dentists and registered nurses only) and the clinics and facilities in which they operate and offer injectable cosmetics such as botulinum toxins and dermal fillers to the public.
Providers can now register through the website www.treatmentsyoucantrust.co.uk for certification by the scheme, which officially goes live with a high profile PR campaign to the public at the end of this month (from 20th May 2010).
This SELF regulation scheme is not mandatory, and many in the industry would have preferred legislation to ensure that any provider of these treatments was required to be registered. The government, despite lobbying, has decided that this is not a priority, and as the injectable cosmetic industry has been entirely unregulated since the first product (bovine collagen) was launched in the UK in the late 1980’s, one may imagine that any scheme to help provide consumers with some form of objective information to help them compare providers should be welcome news for consumers.
However, it is fair to say that the new scheme has been received with very mixed reviews by industry participants – whether they are suppliers of cosmetic injectable products to clinics, or clinics/practitioners offering the treatments to consumers.
The reasons are many and varied – indeed, I could probably write a book! – and this is a subject that we will be following in our blogs and newsletters as the scheme evolves over the coming year.
But, as a kick off – here are some of the key points that are being made for and against the scheme:
- Buying injectable cosmetic treatments from a company or individual who complies with all standards to successfully achieve the quality mark DOES NOT mean that they are good at using these treatments.
Standards for registration revolve predominantly around suitable environment; health and safety; policies and procedures for safe injection protocols, open complaints procedures etc. The scheme does not (and probably cannot) pro-actively assess the skills, or otherwise, of practitioners offering these treatments. Practitioners come into this business from many different backgrounds, and not all are good at using their hands to provide subtle natural aesthetic results. In addition, as training is unregulated, training certificates displayed by practitioners are evidence of attendance of a training course, not evidence of competency.
- Clinics already registered with the Care Quality Commission, because they offer cosmetic surgery treatments or laser treatments that do fall under current legislation are legally required to be registered. Clinics pay £1,000’s/year to maintain registration and comply with a raft of minimum standards. These clinics will also have to register with the self regulation scheme for injectable cosmetic treatments in order to get a logo. Unfortunately, in order to do this, they are being asked to pay double the amount that a non-registered provider of these treatments (who may not own a clinic themselves, but who visit beauty salons and use their premises) is required to pay in order to be registered. This anomaly has certainly caused concern amongst clinics affected who see this as an extra cost, when they are already being legally regulated and audited by the Care Quality Commission.
- Only Doctors, Surgeons, Dentists and Nurses who use cosmetic injectable treatments are currently eligible to register. This does, at least, put a message out to the general public (and to training companies who offer courses on how to inject) that anyone not belonging to these medical specialties – and particularly non- medically qualified beauty therapists, may not be the most suitable people to buy these treatments from.
- The IHAS has also launched a self regulation scheme for training providers – many of whom are commercial training companies, rather than the suppliers who manufacture and sell the products. One would hope that these standards may improve the quality of training experienced by practitioners before they enter the industry.
These are just a couple of the arguments that are being actively debated– I’m sure that we’ll see more opinions following this blog post!?
So – is this “better than nothing” – a start, but not the answer – or a complete waste of time and money??
Personally I would like to believe that this is one small step in the right direction to providing consumers with a path to safer treatments with cosmetic injectables – but I’m not yet convinced!
And, as they say, the devil is in the detail – so having spent the last couple of days laboriously going through the online registration process - I know that this alone will delay the application of many clinics before the official public press launch date of 20th May. Combine this with the skepticism of many clinics re the worth of the scheme – I wouldn’t envisage there being a large number of registered clinics for consumers (if they become aware of it) to choose from in the early months!
For more information about the new Register of Injectable Cosmetic Providers – visit: www.treatmentsyoucantrust.co.uk