Royal College of Surgeons consults on new training standards to protect cosmetic surgery patients

Posted: 03/02/2015


The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has set out plans requiring surgeons in the private sector to prove that they meet new standards of training in order to be certified and included on a register. The proposals put out for consultation by the RCS suggests that patients paying for cosmetic surgery should have access to clear, unbiased and credible information about their surgeon, care provider, procedure and likely outcomes. The consultation period will run until 20 March 2015. 

The majority of cosmetic surgery takes place in the private sector and, currently, a surgeon must be registered and licensed by the General Medical Council (GMC) to carry out such procedures.  However, as cosmetic surgery covers a number of surgical areas, there is no common qualification available for surgeons.  

Any surgeon will have to be on the GMC specialist register in the area of training that covers the operations they wish to perform. They will also be required to demonstrate they have:

  • Undertaken a minimum number of procedures within the relevant region of the body in a facility recognised by the health regulator
  • The appropriate professional skills to undertake cosmetic surgery
  • Evidence of the quality of their surgical outcome.

It is envisaged that the certificate system will be voluntary only. This has led to some concerns that, while the proposal is a step in the right direction towards regulation, it still does not go far enough. 

Rajiv Grocer, a spokesman for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) said: "This will only protect the public if the recommendations are mandatory and policed."  

Nigel Mercer, the President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) also commented on the RCS's proposal: "This tightening of existing regulations will go a long way to help prospective patients and employing clinics recognise high-quality surgical expertise, leading to improve patient safety.”

Amy Milner, a solicitor within the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: "It has been clear for some time - and highlighted further following Sir Bruce Keogh's review of the industry - that cosmetic surgery needs more regulation. Although we agree that the RCS proposal is a step in the right direction, more must be done to ensure the industry as a whole is better regulated and prospective patients are meeting with not only qualified but specialist plastic surgeons.  

“We know what can happen when surgery goes wrong and the potentially devastating impact that any - often avoidable - complications can have on a patient's life. We will therefore be keeping a close eye on the RCS's proposal, and hope that this leads to some positive changes to improve patient safety."


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