The APPG Report: what kind of changes can we expect to see in the regulation of aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments? 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing (APPG) is a cross-party group established in May 2019 to champion the aesthetic industry in Parliament.  It has recently published  its comprehensive report following a year-long inquiry into the standards for non-surgical cosmetic treatments. The APPG’s report sheds  light on the absence of legal framework in this area.

The APPG identifies “a need for the beauty industry and the medical professions to work together to seek solutions that raise standards and protect the safety and wellbeing of consumers”.  This article will outline some of the APPG’s key recommendations which are likely to have a significant impact on all parts of the industry.

A national minimum standard

The report criticises the current lack of regulation defining who can carry out these treatments. At present, procedures can be carried out by virtually anyone and there is no legal obligation for the provider to be insured. The APPG has proposed that both aesthetics practitioners and medical practitioners must be able to prove their competence by passing a minimum standard of training before administering treatments. The report considers how CPD could be used as a mechanism of ensuring this minimum standard continues to be met by practitioners.

Mandatory regulated qualifications

In response to the rising popularity of self-accredited courses, the report calls for stricter qualification rules to be put in place. There is strong support from the likes of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine that high-risk procedures, such as dermal fillers, should be restricted to being carried out by medical practitioners. The APPG recommends reclassifying dermal fillers as Prescription Only Medicines. This change in regulation would likely result in a higher proportion of doctors carrying these treatments out in the future, if non-medically qualified aesthetic practitioners are unable  to continue offering them.

National licensing framework

In light of the increasing popularity of cosmetic treatments, the APPG has suggested that a national licensing scheme should be introduced to govern the oversight of treatments. This would mirror the existing approach taken to tattooing and piercing.  There is scope for this to be done through amending the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, or through introducing new primary legislation. A licensing framework would enable local authorities to check and regulate a practitioner’s premises, qualifications and medical oversight arrangements. Medical practitioners involved in administering these treatments would need to prepare themselves for a higher degree of scrutiny and the increased likelihood of complaints being made to the GMC, if such a scheme were to be implemented.

Psychological pre-screening

The report credits research which reveals the higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders among those who seek cosmetic surgery. As a result, many believe practitioners should not be carrying out these procedures unless they are able to carry out adequate psychological assessments beforehand, something that many practitioners consider themselves ill-equipped to perform. The report called for extra training and modes of assessment to be rolled out in relation to this. It seems clear this new requirement would significantly impact the amount of time and energy a doctor would need to devote to a patient seeking a cosmetic procedure.

Social media and advertising

There should be restrictions placed on the advertising of dermal fillers, PDO cogs and threads, in the same way that they are currently imposed on botox. Social media platforms are encouraged to take more responsibility regarding the promotion of cosmetic treatments and products.

Insurance

There should be a requirement for all aesthetic practitioners to hold “adequate and robust insurance cover”, with set industry standards of competence to be attained in order to obtain cover. Adequate insurance cover should be a requirement of any future industry licensing framework.

Other key proposals in the report include the banning of invasive aesthetic treatments for under 18s.  This in part foreshadows the introduction in England of the Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Act 2021, which came into effect on 1 October 2021. This creates offences of administering botox or dermal fillers to anyone under the age of 18 for a cosmetic purpose  and without the direction of a medical practitioner.

The extent to which  the Government will try to implement these proposals remains to be seen,  however practitioners in this field should expect to see changes, with the report cautioning that ”maintaining the status quo is not an option.”


Written by Bethany Cartledge, Paralegal and Greg McEwen, Partner at BLM

bethany.cartledge@blmlaw.com / greg.mcewen@blmlaw.com

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