Article November 2, 2021

Shake-up for standards in the non-surgical aesthetics market

A raft of recommendations to improve the performance of the non-surgical aesthetics market is set to shake up the sector, putting a focus on increasing industry standards and promoting the introduction of mandatory insurance and qualifications for all practitioners.

The recommendations were made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, which was established in May 2019 by co-chairs Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP.

In 2020, it launched a year-long inquiry to investigate how the aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments market could improve standards for undertaking and advertising treatments such as botulinum toxins or similar anti-wrinkle injectables, polydioxanone (PDO) threads and cogs, and dermal fillers.

It recently published its findings in a report entitled, “Inquiry into advanced aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments,” which makes 17 recommendations across five different areas – standards and qualifications; regulation and enforcement; ethics and mental health; insurance; and social media and advertising.

The report highlights the fact that many patients coming to a clinic or salon assume the person carrying out their treatment has suitable qualifications and carries an appropriate level of insurance.

But it found the UK’s current regulatory framework places no restrictions on who may perform aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments in the private sector.

It also found that qualification standards are inconsistent, many training courses are self-accredited and there is no national benchmark against which they are all measured. Nor is there a requirement for practitioners to be covered by insurance. 

To combat these issues, the report recommends that the Government should, “require all practitioners to hold adequate and robust insurance cover and set an industry standard for the level of proven competence that is required to gain coverage.”

In addition, it recommends that those carrying out treatments must hold regulated qualifications and carry out continuing professional development training to maintain and update their skills, knowledge and competence. It suggests this training should be checked as part of a practitioner’s annual insurance renewal.  

The report emphasises the need for the aesthetics industry to enhance the way it screens potential patients and to put in place tighter measures to identify and protect those with psychological vulnerabilities.

It also recommends an extension to the ban on under 18s receiving botox or fillers to include other invasive advanced aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments such as PDO cogs and threads. It says the oversight of such advanced treatments should be governed by a national licensing scheme. 

To further improve the care and consideration given to patients, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing recommends introducing a mandatory face-to-face consultation with someone holding accredited qualifications before any treatment is given.

In relation to how the market advertises its products and services, the report advocates the need for social media platforms to take more responsibility for curbing and censoring misleading advertisements, as well as for the mental health impacts of promoting aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

It recommends that advertising restrictions should be placed on dermal fillers and PDO cogs and threads in the same way they are imposed on botox as a prescription-only medicine.

It remains to be seen how many of the report’s 17 recommendations are enacted into UK legislation or built into evolving industry regulation, although the underlying direction of travel is clear.

In short, there is an increasing responsibility and associated exposure on those giving treatment to ensure they are qualified, to operate in a competent and appropriate fashion and to have adequate insurance in place to protect themselves and their customers.

CFC support these recommendations and are principles the medical malpractice team hold as important underwriting considerations. Find out more about CFC’s medical malpractice policy by contacting our team