DHSC Consultation - Regulation in Aesthetics

The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM)
By The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM)

The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) is the UK’s leading representative body for doctors and dentists practising aesthetic medicine.

The DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) released its consultation document on the future of licensing for aesthetic treatments in England on Saturday 2nd September 2023. This consultation considers which treatments could be included in a license for practitioners. People and businesses are invited to share their views on how to make non-surgical cosmetic procedures safer as thousands complain of ‘botched’ procedures.

  • Government to seek views on how to make non-surgical cosmetic procedures safer for consumers
  • Calls for views from industry and people who have undergone these procedures will be used to shape regulations
  • Proposals considered include restrictions on who can perform certain high-risk procedures and age limits for those undergoing cosmetic procedures

The government’s first-ever consultation on treatments - also known as aesthetic procedures - will be used to shape a new licensing scheme for practitioners and cosmetic businesses that operate in England. This could include age limits and restrictions for high-risk procedures, including those involving injecting fillers into intimate parts of the body - including the breasts and buttocks.

Any new licensing scheme would protect patients from potential harm associated with poorly performed procedures. This will provide reassurance to people that wherever they go to get their treatments, they will receive the same high standards of practice.

The beauty industry is hugely important for the UK economy and is largely made up of female-owned, small and medium-sized businesses, with the non-surgical cosmetic industry previously being valued at an estimated £3.6 billion in the UK.

New regulations will support businesses by introducing high standards across the sector, raising the reputation and professionalism of the industry.

The BACN and BCAM Professional Associations represent nearly 2000 medically registered Health Care Professionals practising in the medical aesthetic speciality. Both Associations are synonymous in their position and medical approach to aesthetic procedures. Public safety is not only key, in light of this pivotal consultation, but a focus shared by both professional associations. We will continue to campaign for a medical approach to be at the forefront of aesthetic procedures as a critical part of the licensing process.

Both Associations have consistently maintained a medical approach to aesthetic procedures, intrinsic to both organisations Code of Conduct. 

They will be analysing and sharing the findings and proposals in the document from the DHSC and submitting detailed comments.

Sharon Bennett – Chair – BACN said:

‘The British Association of Cosmetic Nurses supports any move towards regulation which puts patient safety at the heart of its agenda. Together we will be working with BCAM, and other stakeholders to ensure that any member of the public undergoing a medical aesthetic treatment is given the “reasonable standard of care” as expected in any medical treatment’.

Catherine Fairis – President BCAM said:

‘The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) welcomes licensing, especially if it puts patient safety at the centre of its agenda by promoting the medical model of aesthetics. We want to work collaboratively with BACN and the other main stakeholders to ensure that this consultation achieves the most effectual licencing policy for aesthetics in the UK’.

Minister for the Women’s Health Strategy, Maria Caulfield said:

'Whether it’s Botox, dermal fillers or even a chemical peel, we have heard too many stories of people who’ve had bad experiences from getting a cosmetic procedure from someone who is inexperienced or underqualified.

There’s no doubt that the popularity of cosmetic procedures is increasing, so it’s our role to ensure consistent standards for consumers and a level playing field for businesses and practitioners.

We want to make sure we get this right for everyone, which is why we want to hear your opinions and experiences through our new consultation.'

Ashton Collins, Director, Save Face said:

'Whilst we appreciate that we are still at very early stages of any potential licensing scheme being implemented in England, we are delighted to have been invited by the government to contribute our thoughts and ideas ahead of the release of this public consultation.

Being involved in the process has enabled Save Face to actively contribute to roundtable discussions with ministers, policy makers and key stakeholders.

As the largest and longest established Professional Standards Authority accredited register, we are able to provide a unique level of insight based on 10 years of gathering data from practitioner and clinic audits as well as patient reported complaints, adverse reactions, and complications.

This will enable us to help develop a fit for purpose scheme that has public safety as its primary focus. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the government and key stakeholders during the next stages of the process.'

Professor David Sines CBE, Chair of the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners, said:

'I warmly welcome the government’s decision to consult on this new, proposed licensing scheme.  It will help to ensure that people who undergo non-surgical cosmetic procedures receive treatment from practitioners who are properly trained and qualified, have the necessary insurance cover and operate from premises that are safe and hygienic.

I would urge everybody to seize the opportunity provided by this consultation and support the move towards sensible and proportionate regulation in this important sector.'

Victoria Brownlie, Chief Policy Officer at the British Beauty Council:

'Since its inception, the British Beauty Council has been working to raise the reputation of the beauty industry and we see greater checks and balances around aesthetic procedures as a key part of this. Having worked with the government to achieve the ban on injectables for under 18s in 2021, we are delighted that they have continued this momentum with the commitment to introduce a licensing scheme covering a raft of higher-risk aesthetic treatments, many of which are largely unregulated.

Those seeking treatments deserve to do so with confidence that their practitioner is properly qualified in the service they’re offering, to the appropriate level of government approved educational standards. The Council has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to get to this point, so we look forward to seeing the outcome of the consultation and helping to shape the regulatory framework as it progresses.'

The consultation will run for 8 weeks and will close on Saturday 28 October 2023.

It follows the passing of the Health and Care Act in April 2022, which gave the Health and Social Care Secretary the power to introduce a licensing regime.

Under the proposed scheme, which will be operated by local authorities in England, practitioners will need to be licensed to perform specific procedures, and the premises from which they operate will also need to be licensed.

The government has already made it illegal for under 18s to access Botox and filler treatments for cosmetic purposes and banned TV and social media adverts targeting under 18s with cosmetic procedures.

Anyone considering a cosmetic procedure should reflect fully on the possible impact of the procedure on both their physical and mental health and if they decide to go ahead, take the time to find a reputable, insured and qualified practitioner.

To read the Consultation Document in full click here.

Rethinking Medical Aesthetics

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