13 Jan 2017

RCS urges surgeons to apply for cosmetic surgery certification to improve patient safety

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) is launching a new new system of certification today which will make the cosmetic surgery industry safer for patients and enhance the reputation of the profession.
RCS urges surgeons to apply for cosmetic surgery certification to improve patient safety

The RCS is urging all surgeons who perform cosmetic surgical procedures to apply for certification.

The new certification system for surgeons will help patients to identify a surgeon with the appropriate training and experience to perform a specific procedure, in different parts of the country.

Cosmetic surgery is not a defined surgical specialty and historically there haven’t been common standards available to the surgeons who perform it. The new system of certification will address this and allow the public and employers to distinguish highly qualified, experienced individuals, from those who are working without adequate insurance or the necessary specialist training.

To receive certification surgeons will have to provide evidence of their training, professional skills, clinical skills, knowledge and experiences. They will also have to attend an RCS accredited professional behaviours masterclass. Professional and ethical aspects of practice including the relationship with the patient are the most common reasons for unsatisfactory outcomes in cosmetic surgery. Therefore demonstration of knowledge and skills in this area is an integral part of the certification process.

Mr Stephen Cannon, Chair of the Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) and Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“You only have to page through the adverts in lifestyle magazines to know cosmetic surgery is a booming industry in the UK. However, what many don’t know is that the law currently allows any doctor – surgeon or otherwise – to perform cosmetic surgery in the private sector.

“The RCS believes this certification system will help patients to find a certified surgeon, who has the appropriate training and experience to carry out a procedure such as a tummy tuck or nose job. We also hope it will improve the reputation of a profession which at times comes under intense criticism in the media, sometimes with good reason.

“The vast majority of surgeons performing cosmetic surgery in the private sector are meeting the highest standards of patient care, but we want to make sure this is the case in every hospital and clinic around the country.”

Surgeons will be able to obtain certification in one or more groups of closely related procedures as long as they are on the General Medical Council’s (GMC) specialist register in a specialty that demonstrates training and experience in the chosen area of practice, and they can demonstrate they meet certification requirements.

Following Sir Bruce Keogh’s Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions, the Royal College of Surgeons was asked to set up a Cosmetic Surgery Interspecialty Committee (CSIC) to make cosmetic surgery safer for patients. In response to this, and in consultation with members of the CSIC, the Royal College of Surgeons agreed to develop a certification system for surgeons performing cosmetic surgical procedures.

The RCS has also published Professional Standards for Cosmetic Surgery which stipulate that only surgeons with the appropriate training and experience should undertake cosmetic surgery, as well as the ethics and behaviour expected of them. At the end of 2016, the RCS published information for people who are considering cosmetic surgery on its website. Late this year the RCS will launch a portal which will allow patients to search for certified surgeons in their areas.