CIEH joins with public health sector to demand regulation for cosmetic treatments

10 May 2021, Heidi Douglas-Osborn

CIEH has joined forces with six public health organisations to send a joint letter to Nadine Dorries MP, the Minister responsible for cosmetic treatments regulation in England.

CIEH has come together with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Institute of Licensing (IoL), Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), UK Public Health Network (UKPHN), Faculty of Public Health (FPH), and Save Face, to call for better regulation for cosmetic treatments in England.

The letter outlines three essential changes to make cosmetic treatments safer for the general public. These include:

  • The creation of a national licensing scheme for practitioners of cosmetic treatments to ensure all those who practice are properly regulated and provide safe treatment for the public
  • Official guidance developed for mandatory training and qualification requirements for all practitioners, including knowledge and application of infection controls
  • Far better recording of adverse events as well as awareness raising done with members of the public to ensure that cases that go wrong can be tracked and improvements made

CIEH found in it’s 2020 joint survey of regulators, The ugly side of beauty: improving the safety of cosmetic treatment in England, published with the IoL, that there was overwhelming support for the introduction of an England-wide licensing scheme, with 90% of the respondents agreeing that this could improve the regulatory system and protect the public from harm. Similarly, the JCCP has found that there is considerable support for the design and implementation of such a national licensing scheme and has outlined the Council’s proposal as part of its recently published Ten Point Plan for Safer Regulation in the Aesthetic Sector.

The UK Government has previously acknowledged the need for better regulation in the cosmetic industry, and supported Laura Trott MP’s Private Members Bill on cosmetic treatments for the under 18s. However, CIEH and its partner organisations are calling for more to be done to finally make this growing industry safe.

Dr Phil James, CIEH Chief Executive, said:

“We are excited to join together with these organisations on such an important issue and see this as a great chance to push forward plans to make cosmetic treatments safer for the public.

This is a good step in working with the UK Government to create better public health protections. As our flagship reports on the cosmetic treatments industry have shown, action simply must be taken. It is vital that invasive procedures are undertaken by qualified, registered and experienced healthcare professionals.

Along with our partner organisations, we look forward to working with the Government hand in hand on this important issue.”

Professor Maggie Rae, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said:

“The Faculty of Public Health supports CIEH’s call for better regulation of cosmetic treatments to protect the public from harm.

Unless the UK Government acts to improve safety standards in this field, those receiving treatments remain at risk of poor outcomes which can seriously impact their health into the future.

This joint call for urgent action demonstrates the broad base of support for more stringent – and crucially legislated – regulation of cosmetic treatments, which must be delivered to afford the public better health protection.”

Christina Marriott, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said:

“We are pleased to shine a light on the need for introducing greater protections in the cosmetic and beauty industry. Our 2019 report Skins and Needles found that inconsistent regulation across the UK resulted in nearly one in five members of the public experiencing negative side effects following a special procedure. The majority of the public want practitioners to be legally required to hold infection control qualifications. We urge the Government to act on this public support and introduce a licensing scheme to mandate training.”

Daniel Davies, IoL Chairman said:

“There is an urgent need for proper regulation of beauty and cosmetic treatments across the UK. The current system is outdated and wholly inadequate for the variety of cosmetic procedures currently offered within the aesthetics and beauty industry. 

Public health and welfare is paramount and the fragmented national regulatory regime is presently unfit for purpose. A complete reform of licensing arrangements together with measures to raise public awareness is absolutely essential and should be progressed as soon as possible.

The impact of poor, unqualified cosmetic treatments is life changing for the individuals affected, and this joint approach to the Government is an important step in pushing for action on what is a critical public protection.” 

Ashton Collins, Director of Save Face, said:

“We fully endorse the need for a mandatory, recognized set of training requirements for practitioners who wish to become aesthetic practitioners. We have recently teamed up with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to develop a set of qualifications in botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. The qualifications have been developed to promote the teaching of an essential curriculum, leading to an accessible examination and certification which is regulated and awarded by the RSPH. Attainment of these qualifications will demonstrate that the practitioner has the requisite knowledge and understanding to carry out these procedures safely.” 

Nicola Close, Chief Executive of ADPH, signing the letter on behalf of the UKPHN Executive Group, said:

“The UK Public Health Network is glad to collaborate with some of our member organisations in this call for better regulation of cosmetic treatments in England. The three essential changes stated are imperative to protect the public from harm. 

 The overwhelming support from regulators for a licensing scheme in England clearly shows that more needs to be done to ensure this growing industry is safe. The UK Government must build on its acknowledgment for the need for better regulation in the cosmetic industry by taking immediate action to mitigate any risk of poor health outcomes going forward.”

Professor David Sines, Chairperson of the JCCP, said:

‘The JCCP has been pleased to engage with the CIEH over the past three years with the aim of promoting evidence-based practice, public protection and consumer safety in the aesthetic industry. The JCCP has presented evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Wellbeing and Aesthetics with regard to the current inadequacy of both primary and secondary legislation to enable local authorities in England to enforce the standard and scope of enforcement required to protect members of the public.

The JCCP has produced a Ten Point Plan that is designed to inform a new national regulatory framework for the aesthetics industry in the UK. In particular we support the CIEH in its endeavour to seek additional health and safety powers for Local Authorities to enforce mandatory education, qualification or training standards and compulsory practitioner insurance.

The JCCP recognises and acknowledges its thanks to the CIEH for advising that in the in absence of statutory regulation, that voluntary registration can only provide limited public protection, as practitioners who cannot meet the required standards for safe and effective practice can continue to practise legally, thereby failing to provide evidence of their competence and capability to protect the public.” 

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