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The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) Register of Injectable Cosmetic Providers (Quality Assurance Mark) officially launches to the general public today (Monday 13th September), yet the scheme is already courting disapproval from the UK’s largest surgeon association, namely the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).
The TreatmentsYouCanTrust.co.uk website details those clinics who have been granted a quality assurance mark for the provision of cosmetic injectables via a shared regulation scheme set up by IHAS, in conjunction with, and with funding from the Department of Health. BAAPS notes that a recent poll of its members showed that less than 4% would even consider signing up to the scheme.
The feeling from the BAAPS is so strong that they have demanded that the ‘unenforceable’ regulation scheme, as they see it, be shelved pending guidance from the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the EU Standards Agencies (CEN).
BAAPs President, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Nigel Mercer said;
“...its regulation appears rudimentary and their ‘Quality Mark’ is not recognised by the British Standards Institute or any other regulatory body. It is evident from the information circulated by the IHAS to the profession that the scheme is being used as a marketing tool.”
BAAPS also highlight that they have long held the opinion that as IHAS is, in part, funded by the clinics who have a major vested interest in the cosmetic injectable market, it places it in a clear position of a conflict of interest and therefore it is inappropriate for them to have a role in its regulation.
Many points of contention stem from the IHAS’ own press releases, which state “The Quality Assurance Mark will bring clear commercial advantage to those who display it”, and their claims that the register has already brought increased amounts of business to those who have signed up in the past few months.
Mr. Mercer continued;
“No regulation scheme should be set up in the interest of bringing in business.”
Following such denouncements by BAAPS, IHAS has accused them of ‘protectionist’ behaviour. Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Chair of the IHAS Working Group was quoted in August when BAAPS first raised its concerns about the scheme. He said at the time;
“It is disappointing that some plastic surgeons are trying to damage the scheme before it has started. They appear only to want plastic surgeons to be able to provide these non-surgical injectable treatments. This is too restrictive and totally unrealistic. This must raise a fear, hopefully unwarranted, that they are more concerned about protecting their market than protecting patients.”
In response, BAAPS has said that it is precisely because injectables do not make up the bulk of their practice, (according to Allergan, plastic surgeons make up less than 2% of Botox® sales) that they can be objective and keep patient safety as the main goal and that they are not therefore being protectionist.
“The BAAPS urges the new Government to wait until the EU standards are in place and to withdraw support for the IHAS scheme as it stands;” concluded Nigel Mercer.
The process of European Regulation of cosmetic procedures has started through CEN, one of the recognised EU Standards Agencies, and the Standards produced will have EU (CE Mark) and National backing through the British Standards Institute (BSI) in the United Kingdom. These standards will have patient safety at their core and will not be primarily a marketing tool. They will have 'teeth' because they cannot be ignored by National Governments emphasised BAAPS in their recent press release.
Head of IHAS, Sally Taber told BBC News when interviewed about the launch of the register;
"All of the industry wanted regulation to begin with, but it's obvious from the previous government and now the coalition government, that has given this scheme its support, that we're not going to get it. A set of professionally led standards at the moment is the correct way forward."
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