A woman receiving lip fillers

CIEH lobbies for licensing for ‘aesthetic’ treatments

Cosmetics amendment tabled to Health and Care Bill following successful campaign
15 September 2021 , Steve Smethurst

CIEH has joined with other public health organisations and Conservative MP Caroline Nokes to table an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that would give the Secretary of State the power to introduce a licensing regime for cosmetic treatments and make it an offence for someone to practise without a licence.

Cosmetic treatments offered on the high street include lip fillers, injectables, thread lifts, semi-permanent make-up, laser treatments, piercings and tattoos. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the number and type of non-surgical aesthetic procedures, with many practitioners performing treatments without being able to evidence appropriate training and the required standards of oversight and supervision.

A licensing scheme would set standards for training, qualifications and competency requirements and include periodic checks of premises and continuing professional development. It would also ensure all practitioners possess appropriate levels of medical indemnity insurance and provide access to redress schemes for members of the public, should complications arise as the result of any aesthetic procedure.

CIEH has been working in coalition with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the Institute of Licensing (IoL), the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), the UK Public Health Network (UKPHN), the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and Save Face in calling for better regulation of all cosmetic treatments.

A CIEH and IoL survey of regulators revealed numerous examples of clients suffering infections, injuries, scarring, burns and allergic reactions as a result of a range of procedures, including outbreaks of infection at skin-piercing premises, resulting in individuals being hospitalised and, in some cases, disfiguration and partial removal of the ear. There are also incidences of clients suffering third-degree burns from lasers and sunbeds and even blindness in one eye caused by the incorrect administration of dermal filler.

Professor David Sines CBE, Chair of the JCCP, told EHN: “In the absence of a government mandate to implement a national system of statutory regulation for the aesthetic sector, the JCCP considers that a local authority licensing scheme should be put in place across the UK to protect members of the public from the consequences of unregulated and unsafe aesthetic practice.

“The JCCP wishes to see a national system of licensing whereby there is adequate auditing for qualifications, possession of appropriate insurance cover, the safe supply and use of products/medicines and the provision of safe, ‘harm-free’ premises.

“In addition, any licensing scheme must include the implementation of sanctions when aesthetic service providers are unable to evidence compliance with mandated standards. This will require the implementation of specific powers for local authority enforcement officers to enable them to deal immediately with non-compliant practitioners.” 

CIEH President Julie Barratt added: “There are legions of examples of treatments going horribly wrong. This amendment is an important step towards making cosmetic treatments in England safer. With no national standards and very little oversight about who is performing what, the threat to public health is very clear.“

As an active advocate for environmental health at the UK Parliament, CIEH has also been working with MPs to amend the Environment Bill.

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