Everything you need to know about the Aesthetic Surgery Services legislation

January 13th, 2015

Cosmetica Training produced an in depth analysis of the new legislation, so here’s a brief guide.

In 2014, a new legislation for aesthetic surgery services was approved by the CEN. In the near future, the new European Aesthetics Surgery guidelines will be published, but what does this mean for aesthetic practitioners and patients?

Broadly speaking, the new legislation will set a minimum standard of care, dictate training requirements and help to ensure safe, effective treatment is provided to the public.

Here is a brief guide to the new legislation:

About the new legislation

The Aesthetics Surgery Services bill has been introduced to create a level playing field, iron out inconsistencies and ensure a minimum standard of care. There are also implications for policies and procedures that will be brought in to protect the public and practitioners, and promote health and safety.

The bill will cover all 31 countries governed by the CEN and means that practitioners and clinics in all of these nations must adhere to guidelines, legislation procedures and policies in order to offer aesthetic treatment. This includes both surgical and non-surgical treatment. The UK differs to most countries because it has been granted A-deviation to the guidelines in exceptional circumstances. This will probably mean that separate documents will be published for surgical and non-surgical treatment in the UK.

What do the experts think about the new legislation?

Most experts believe that the move is a very positive one. For many, the changes will have little impact on the way they work, as they already adhere to quality standards and employ the relevant health and safety measures. In cases where staff members do not have the relevant training and the clinic doesn’t meet quality standards, the introduction of new measures will help to improve standards of care and results, and encourage staff training and development.

In the UK, regulators and practitioners have been calling for changes in legislation for many years and the new bill has been welcomed. Vice President of BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons), Nigel Mercer, believes that the new measures will help to ensure that patients are protected from people who have poor training and a lack of qualifications and face fewer risks when they decide to undergo aesthetic treatment. In an interview with the Aesthetics Journal, Mr Mercer stated that patients will have peace of mind that the person who is treating them has the necessary training, skills and qualifications and the setting in which they are receiving treatment meets quality standards.

Dr Dan Poulter, health minister for England, said that changes in legislation represent a major shake-up in the way the aesthetics industry operates and will contribute to improved results and increased safety in the future. Patients will be required to sign and give their consent in the presence of a trained, registered doctor, rather than a sales agent, and they will be able to make well-informed decisions about aesthetic treatment.

How will the legislation affect training requirements?

Clause 3 of the new legislative guidelines relates to training. The new guidelines outline minimum staff training requirements and refer to the more complex techniques and treatments offered. There are 3 categories, as follows:

  • Category 1: non-surgical office-based treatments, including botulinum toxin treatment and non-ablative laser techniques
  • Category 2: intermediate treatments administered under local anaesthetic in a clinic or minor operations setting. Examples include liposuction, blepharoplasty and some forms of liposuction.
  • Category 3: major surgical procedures, which are carried out in a clinic or hospital setting under local or general anaesthetic. Examples include breast augmentation or reduction, rhinoplasty and facial aesthetic surgery.

Category 1 procedures

In order to offer category 1 treatments, practitioners must have:

  • at least 2 years of general clinical experience
  • at least 3 years of specific training in procedures based at the clinic
  • compliance with minimum standard national training requirements

Category 2 and 3 procedures

In order to offer category 2 and 3 procedures, practitioners must have:

  • all of the above (category 1 requirements)
  • specialist training in surgical procedures in line with training syllabuses

All practitioners must also complete continual training to promote professional development and comply with registration requirements. All practitioners must attend a minimum of 2 accredited continuous medical education courses or events per year.

What are the penalties for non-compliance with legislative measures?

The new guidelines set out minimum standards and failure to meet these and comply with regulatory policies and procedures may result in legal action and other consequences, which may affect the ability to practise in the future.

All patients should be made aware of the complaints procedure and all clinics and practitioners must have a stringent policy in place to cope with complaints.

Although the Aesthetic Surgery Services bill does not outline specific consequences for non-compliance, it is essential that practitioners understand the importance of complying with legislative measures. In order to protect the public and prevent professional malpractice, anyone who offers aesthetic services must work in line with these guidelines. Lawsuits can be extremely expensive and they result in conviction, as well as a loss of license. In the current climate, when the number of compensation cases is at an all-time high, the importance of compliance cannot be underestimated.

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