Cosmetic surgery clinics should be named and shamed, Jeremy Hunt says
Poor cosmetic surgery clinics could be named and shamed for the first time under new Government proposals.
Health officials believe that extending the facilities which can be rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) health regulator to include cosmetic surgery providers will help bolster the safety of these types of operations.
The CQC currently inspects these cosmetic surgery facilities but does not rate them as being "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" or "inadequate" and publish the results online as it does with hospitals and GP surgeries.
The Health Department will launch a consultation on Monday to expand the rating programme to cover up to 1,000 facilities which provide cosmetic surgery, offer pregnancy termination services, substance misuse centres and refractive eye surgery providers.
The proposals also involve rating independent community health providers, ambulance services and dialysis units.
There are 100 cosmetic surgery clinics among the 1,000 providers who could be rated.
Officials believe the move is a necessary step towards improving safety and informed choice after high profile scares such as the PIP breast implant scandal in 2012.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Anyone who chooses to have a cosmetic procedure should have high quality and safe care - and that's why we have a tough regulator in place to help people make an informed decision.
"Our proposals to extend the CQC's powers to rate more providers are an important step forward in improving standards and will help to end the lottery of poor practice in parts of the cosmetic industry."
The CQC has rated over 10,000 providers since 2014 but it has focussed on providers with the most patients. This has included NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts, GP practices, adult social care providers and independent hospitals.
The eight week consultation will be in England only.
Consultant plastic surgeon and former British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons' president Douglas McGeorge said: " This is an arena where regulation has historically been lax and many practitioners can engage in procedures they are not trained or even qualified to perform.
"However, it is important to stress that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates facilities - that is, clinics rather than clinicians. Their remit entails a facility or practice's aspects such as equipment, record-keeping and administrative areas, so we still call for the public to remain extremely vigilant of, and query, their surgeon's experience and accreditations."