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New GMC guidance calls for cosmetic surgery patients to check their doctor’s registration

Posted: 22/06/2017

The General Medical Council (GMC) is urging all patients to check whether a doctor has a licence to practise before undergoing treatment. This comes after the recent revelation that Michael Sheill, a doctor in the South East of England, was still running clinics despite having been struck off almost 10 years ago.

Mr Sheill was exposed by an undercover BBC investigation when it was discovered that he was breaking the rules by performing Botox treatments without a registered practitioner being present. The regulations state that Botox can only be prescribed by a registered doctor, dentist or nurse – Mr Sheill was none of these - and that prescribers are required to undertake a physical examination of patients before the treatment.

Mr Sheill runs clinics in Ashford, Tunbridge Wells, Crawley and Hastings. When the BBC tried to contact him, the director of one of the clinics, Paul Sheill, said that they are not regulated by the GMC but that their “prescriptions are prescribed according to the law”. The BBC has discovered that at least two doctors, both of whom are registered, are prescribing Botox to Mr Sheill. Their identities are currently unknown but they face the possibility of being struck off following an investigation. A GMC spokesman confirmed that by misleading patients in this way, Mr Sheill has "potentially breached Section 49 of the Medical Act", which is a criminal offence.

Mr Sheill was struck off the GMC’s register in 2007 for prescribing banned slimming pills, then in 2009 he was convicted of dangerous driving. In 2012, he was secretly filmed in a Channel 4 News investigation appearing to hold himself out as a registered practitioner. The film was given to the GMC which passed it on to Kent Police. An investigation was launched but later dropped due to insufficient evidence. Mr Sheill was before the courts again in 2014 after being caught placing patients’ confidential medical records in bin bags outside his clinics.

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the cosmetic surgery team at Penningtons Manches, said: “The rules and regulations are there to protect patients. Those who prescribe Botox are required to consult with the patient first to determine the appropriate dose required and to check that the patient’s medical history does not put them at risk. These safeguards are in place to minimise the risks to patients and Mr Sheill is removing them. We would strongly recommend that you research your prospective practitioner thoroughly before agreeing to undergo treatment with them. We believe that at the very minimum you should be checking their registration with the GMC. This can be done via this link.”

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