Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons welcomes new laws restricting use of the title “Surgeon”
Sydney. September 13th, 2023. The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) welcomes the Queensland Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Service and Minister for Women, The Hon Shannon Fentiman’s announcement that the Queensland Parliament has passed an amendment to the National Law, legally restricting the use of the title ‘surgeon’.
Changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 – which is hosted by Queensland – will strengthen the regulation of cosmetic surgery in Australia; increases patient safety and protection and safeguard patients against “cosmetic cowboys”.
The title ‘surgeon’ can only be used by specialist medical practitioners who have completed necessary rigorous surgical training approved by an Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited College that provides specialist surgical training.
The new ruling follows several years of reports of patients being harmed by underqualified practitioners conducting surgical procedures. The Health Ministers of Australia came together and worked collaboratively to look at how best to protect the public.
Nicola Dean, President, ASPS: said: “We welcome Minister Fentiman’s announcement and are 100 percent supportive of the new ruling. Restricting the use of the title ‘surgeon’ is vital for patient safety, so that there is transparency regarding the actual training and qualifications of practitioners.
“To be able to call yourself a ‘surgeon’ is to hold a position of privilege and trust. In the past, there have been too many practitioners in the cosmetic surgery space who have abused that trust and compromised patient safety with appalling consequences. This new ruling will go a long way to help the public understand who is safe to perform surgery.”
In Australia, the only AMC-accredited training for cosmetic surgery is conducted under the umbrella of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and is one of the components of the Plastic and Reconstructive Training SET (Surgical and Education Training) program delivered by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Dr Dean continued: “Specialist Plastic Surgeons have 12 years of training and specific training in cosmetic surgery, but all those doctors who have a FRACS after their names are trained to high standards through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Recently we have been asking patients to “Look for the FRACS title” but now, thanks to this amendment passing, it will be even easier for the public to know who is safe.
“By working together, the Federal Health Minster, The Hon Mark Butler MP and all the Health Ministers of Australia have demonstrated they are taking the health of women and men undergoing cosmetic surgery seriously and have delivered this great result for patient safety,” Dr Dean concluded.
Practitioners who use the title without having completed the appropriate accredited surgical training will face up to three years in prison and a $60,000 fine. The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency is also moving to introduce stronger laws around advertising and the use of online influencers and brand ambassadors to promote cosmetic procedures.
Other measures being taken to better regulate the cosmetic surgery industry include new licensing standards for private facilities and establishing a credentialing system to endorse qualified providers.
Australians who are considering cosmetic surgery can check a practitioner’s qualifications via the AHPRA or ASPS websites and make the most informed choice possible.
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