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Statutory regulation of Botox ‘rejected due to cost’ in UK

February 23, 2010 |

Instead of mandatory regulation of the industry, a voluntary register run by the private sector is being set up.

Unscrupulous practitioners have been administering Botox injections and wrinkle fillers at parties and in their homes and complaints of botched treatment have increased.

Voluntary register for Botox practitioners is not good enough and statutory regulation must be brought in, critics have said.

Experts have been calling for statutory regulation for years but ministers have again rejected the move and are backing the voluntary scheme instead.

The voluntary scheme will see doctors, dentists and registered nurses who have had extra training in Botox and other injectable cosmetic drugs display a quality mark.

To qualify for the mark they will have to sign up to professional standards and be inspected.

Those holding the quality mark will not be able to administer Botox at parties or prescribe the substances for patients they have not seen. Beauty therapists and other untrained staff will not be allowed to hold the quality mark.

But it will then be up to customers and patients to check they are using a practitioner with the quality mark.

Critics said the scheme was better than nothing but did not go far enough and an independent regulator for all cosmetic procedures and drugs should be set up called OffCos.

There are currently an estimated 5,000 premises carrying out an estimated 200,000 treatments a year in the UK.

The voluntary scheme is being launched for injectable cosmetic drugs such as Botox, which freezes muscles in order to smooth out facial lines, and fillers which plump out wrinkles.

However, lights and lasers, used for hair removal and facial peels, where a layer of skin is removed to reveal brighter skin underneath, do come under statutory regulation by the Care Quality Commission.

Experts said a voluntary scheme for injectables and a statutory one for lasers did not make sense.

Sally Taber, director of the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services which is funded by private healthcare companies and will run the scheme, said government ministers had decided that there was not enough money to bring in statutory regulation.

She said: “The health minister decided because patients decide themselves that they want to have Botox or dermal fillers that patients should take some responsibility themselves.

“The Government was of the opinion that the resources they would need (for statutory regulation) were not there.”

She admitted that the scheme was voluntary and the onus would be on customers to check they are using a practitioner that holds the mark.

Ms. Taber added: “It is totally inappropriate for beauty therapists to be injecting a prescription only drug. This will not stop them but we hope patients won’t go to them.”

Nigel Mercer, consultant plastic surgeon and President of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: “BAAPS welcomes this initiative to bring some voluntary regulation to the ‘Wild West” that exists in cosmetic medicine on the high street.

“Unfortunately, the practitioners who are on the ‘fast buck’ fringe do not have to join it, because it is voluntary.

“The BAAPS message continues to be that “OffCos” is needed to enforce regulation in British cosmetic surgery and medicine. There is a British Potato Council, so why is there no statutory regulator for the cosmetic industry? An industry in which serious harm can be done to patients by the poorly trained and the unscrupulous. ”

Peter Walsh, Chief Executive of the charity Action against Medical Accidents, said: “More and more people are being harmed by unregulated cosmetic treatment each year and more needs to be done about it.

“Whilst disappointed that the Government has refused to bring these treatments under statutory regulation, where they should be, something is better than nothing.

“We will be using our experience and influence to make this scheme as robust as it can be to give the public protection and information.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We recognise that people choosing to have cosmetic treatments are having elective procedures that they are paying for privately.

“We know from experience that even statutory regulation is not 100 per cent effective and there will always be smaller independent operators who are more likely to evade registration and fail to maintain compliance with standards. A clear quality mark helps people to make the safest choice, first time.

“Because these services are purely elective, only provided in the independent sector and are not therapeutic healthcare, they do not fit the criteria for organisational regulation by the Care Quality Commission.”

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor, The

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