Given the significant funding cuts for cosmetic surgery procedures to be performed on the NHS, the opportunity for junior doctors to obtain adequate training within this area of expertise is now extremely limited. The lack of training opportunities for the next generation of surgeons means that doctors transferring to private cosmetic surgery work are unlikely to have the breadth of necessary experience.
A trainee member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), Reza Nassab, presented a study at the BAAPS conference that revealed the extent of cuts within the NHS:
The tighter restrictions for aesthetic plastic surgery on the NHS means that there is a significant gap between the training opportunities available and the amount of training required for a surgeon to become proficient.
BAAPS President Michael Cadier commented: “It’s a well-known adage that it takes 10,000 hours training to truly master a craft, and in bygone NHS days this was entirely possible for aesthetic plastic surgery – but with the advent of the European Working Time Directive; which limits the amount of time junior doctors can work; and a rise in medico-legal worries which means trainees don’t get as much of a chance to perform surgical procedures under supervision due to litigation fears; they’re lucky if they get 3,000 hours by the time they become consultants.
“While they will have plenty of exposure to reconstructive treatment for burns, trauma and other medical conditions such as tumours, it does mean there’s a whole new generation of consultants going into private practice offering procedures such as facelifts and breast augmentation, having had virtually no contact with these types of ops during their time on the NHS… It is also high time that we stop relying on the Health Service to prepare them for the private sector – why, indeed, should public funding go towards this arena?
“As the only Association solely dedicated to the advancement of aesthetic plastic surgery, we are ready to take up the mantle of responsibility for training with a groundbreaking new programme alongside our colleagues in other plastic surgery societies and the National Institute of Aesthetic Research – for the development of the profession but most importantly of all, for patient safety.”
BAAPS is launching a fully funded three month fellowship programme with support from the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS). Experienced BAAPS and BAPRAS surgeons can apply to host trainees who will be expected to perform 40 half day operating sessions, 20 half day outpatient session and a half-day for audit and research. The participating units are expected to expose the trainee to a minimum number of 20 breast, 10 truncal, 20 facial and peri-orbital and 10 botulinum toxin cases as well as nasal and ear procedures and dermal fillers.
Sarah Gubbins, specialist cosmetic surgery associate at Penningtons Manches LLP commented: “It is wonderful that BAAPS is investing in the future of cosmetic surgery by providing vital training for potential cosmetic surgeons. We hope that these fellowships will enable trainees to develop the necessary skills and experience required for a successful career in aesthetics. We see many clients who have undergone poorly performed procedures or whose complications have not been managed effectively. We therefore wholeheartedly agree with President Nigel Mercer that the public deserves no less than ‘experienced surgeons operating at the gold standard’ to ensure patient safety.”