NSW Parliamentary report on cosmetic surgery welcomed by specialist Plastic Surgeons
Specialist Plastic Surgeons welcome NSW Parliamentary Report recommendation to restrict ‘cosmetic surgeon’ title to protect patient safety
The safety of cosmetic surgery patients will be significantly improved if recommendations made in the report by the NSW Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into Cosmetic Health Service Complaints are adopted according to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
ASPS presented evidence at the Inquiry and has for many years campaigned at both state and national level for tighter regulations to protect patients.
“We congratulate the Committee on its thoughtful report and strongly support its recommendation that it be considered by the COAG Health Council to ensure its proposed changes are adopted not just in New South Wales, but also at a national level,” says ASPS President, Professor Mark Ashton.
The recommendations include:
- protection or restriction of the title ‘cosmetic surgeon’;
- an increased role for GPs in counselling and advising patients seeking cosmetic surgery;
- the establishment of a national, consumer website and public health campaigns to improve consumer awareness of cosmetic surgery risks.
“One of the most confusing issues for consumers is ambiguity around the term ‘cosmetic surgeon’ which most people don’t realize is not formally recognized as a title by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). It is in effect a fake title,” says Professor Ashton. The title ‘Specialist Plastic Surgeon’ is protected by the AHPRA.
To earn the title an individual must undergo at least 12 years Australian Medical Council-accredited medical and surgical training with at least five years postgraduate specialist surgical training after which they become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). However, under current laws any medical practitioner can call themself a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ despite having no AMC-accredited specialist surgical training.
“This means there is a massive discrepancy in the skills and training of those performing cosmetic surgery in Australia and unfortunately most consumers don’t know the difference,” says Professor Ashton.
“Few would consider going to their GP for cardiac or kidney surgery and yet thousands of unwitting patients are having invasive cosmetic surgery performed by people with little or no surgical training because they, not unreasonably, assume the title ‘surgeon’ infers a minimum standard of specialist expertise regulated by Australian health authorities.
“This is a troubling anomaly that urgently needs addressing nationally and we would urge COAG to seriously consider the NSW Recommendations. “We remind consumers that cosmetic surgery is not trivial – there are real risks involved and sadly we have already seen Australians unnecessarily die from cosmetic surgery procedures.
“Protection of title, along with a Government-funded, independent public health campaign, and appropriate GP advice and counselling would make Australia a world-leader in patient safety in the rapidly growing field of cosmetic surgery” says Professor Ashton.
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