Patients at risk from untrained beauty therapists

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beauty therapists could be required to gain additional formal qualifications before carrying out treatments such as botox under recommendations set to be unveiled this month.

The NHS chief leading the review of plastic surgery standards is warning patients who have non-surgical cosmetic treatments are being exposed to “unreasonable risks” and “permanent damage” because of a lack of appropriate training for those carrying them out.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said his report on the state of the industry, ordered after the faulty PIP breast implants scandal, would make recommendations to make sure patients “were in safe hands”. This is likely to mean a new law requiring everyone from beauty therapists to medically-trained doctors to have additional formal qualifications before carrying out treatments.

Sir Bruce said he was worried that non-surgical procedures – which include dermal fillers, or laser treatment for wrinkles or hair reduction – make up 90 per cent of the sector but are largely unregulated.

“I am concerned that some practitioners who are giving non-surgical treatments may not have had any appropriate training whatsoever,” he said. “This leaves people exposed to unreasonable risks, and possibly permanent damage.

“And our research has shown that the public expect procedures that are so widely available to be safe whereas they are largely unregulated. There is a clear need for better quality, recognised training for the people performing these operations.

“My review will make a number of recommendations for making sure people who choose to undergo these procedures are in safe hands.”

The review into the cosmetic industry, requested by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, was launched after about 40,000 women in the UK received implants manufactured by the now-closed French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP), mostly in private UK clinics. The implants were filled with non-medical grade silicone.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “I await Sir Bruce Keogh’s recommendations in full, but am clear that we must ensure that people undergoing cosmetic procedures are in the hands of someone with the right skills and training.

“The days of cosmetic cowboys must become a thing of the past.”

Other measures suggested to the review team by the public, the industry itself and patient groups, include a ban on cut-price deals, and a clampdown on aggressive sales techniques and a two-stage consent process.

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