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Expert Group on the Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery: Report to the Chief Medical Officer

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    Department of Health
  • Published date:
    28 January 2005
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    Electronic only
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The Report of the Expert Group on the Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery advises and makes recommendations to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on whether or not the current system of regulation for cosmetic surgery is sufficient to ensure patient safety.

Foreword by Harry Cayton

I am pleased to submit the report of the Expert Group on the Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery. We were asked to report on whether the current system for regulation of  cosmetic surgery was sufficient to ensure patient safety and to make recommendations.

The Group has considered evidence from a wide range of bodies and individuals. We have also had the benefit of input from the Healthcare Commission and have taken its report An analysis of private cosmetic surgery provision in England for the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson into consideration. The evidence that we reviewed suggested that avoidable harm is done to some patients.

The Group makes no judgement as to whether or not the current demand for cosmetic surgery and treatments is desirable. We note, however, that demand is considerable, that it is growing, and that cosmetic surgery and procedures are widely advertised and  promoted in ways which would be quite unacceptable to the public or to professional ethics if they were used in relation to other surgical interventions.

People should be confident that their treatment will be safe, that the medical and nurse practitioners who treat them are qualified and competent, and that they have the information they need to make informed decisions. Further than that, it must be the responsibility of individuals to protect themselves by checking on the qualifications, experience and commitment to good practice of the providers they use.

Our recommendations fall into three broad groups; recommendations about clinical training, qualifications and accountability, recommendations about cosmetic procedures, and finally, recommendations about public information and education.

I am very grateful to all the members of the Expert Group who have given freely of their time and knowledge. We have had some challenging discussions and occasional disagreements but I am pleased that the recommendations in this report are unanimous. The written and verbal evidence we have received has also been important and I am particularly grateful to Professor Sir John Temple and the Cosmetic Surgery Inter-Specialty Group for sharing their work with us. We have been well served by our officials and I am grateful to them also.

Harry Cayton
Director for Patients and the Public

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