Tighter regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry in Britain is on the cards in the wake of the faulty breast implant scandal, the NHS medical director is expected to recommend.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has reconvened a panel of experts to continue investigations for the Department of Health to address health and safety issues in cosmetic surgery along with professional qualifications and regulation of practitioners.
A woman holds her removed defective silicone gel breast implants, manufactured by the now-defunct French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP). Brazil will introduce tightened controls on sales of breast implants including lot-by-lot testing, the government said on Thursday, after thousands of defective French implants were sold in the country and across Latin America.
"The vast majority of practitioners in the cosmetic industry are professional and well skilled but I'm concerned that the sector as a whole does not have the systems for monitoring the results for patients and alerting us to possible problems," said Keogh.
"I will work with the industry to improve regulation and governance and increase consumer confidence."
The review, which published an interim report for the government on Friday, was called in response to recent concerns over breast implants manufactured by defunct French company Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP).
A global health scare followed revelations that PIP's breast implantswere made from industrial-grade silicone and consequently have a high rupture rate.
Keogh's team will look deeper at the arrangements for ensuring the safety of people seeking cosmetic interventions such as breast implants and dermal fillers.
The expert group of surgeons and health professionals will examine how the cosmetic industry can improve the quality and safety of care through improved authority, whether cosmetic products and interventions are appropriately regulated, and if not, how industry regulation can be improved in the UK and in Europe.
Understanding the operation of medical devices at the European level will also be investigated
"The blame for what happened lies with PIP but the findings from this review will enable us to learn lessons to improve future regulatory effectiveness and influence the conclusions of the European Commission," the Department of Health said.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said his main concern was for the safety and wellbeing of women with PIP implants.
"We have set out how the NHS will help patients affected, and we expect the private sector to do the same," he said.
"We must now go further and look at how we can tighten up regulation of the wider cosmetic industry so that this doesn't happen again."
Despite a department of health commitment to review the issue, the British government has still not followed through with a recommendation for routine removal of the faulty implants.
It has said only that the National Health Service (NHS) will remove the faulty implants in British women free of charge if the original operation was carried out by the NHS. It is expected that the private sector do the same although, though there are no guarantees that they will.
About 3,000 women are thought to have had the operation on the NHS out of an overall total of 45,000 patients across the UK.
In contrast, the Welsh government has announced it will pay to replace PIP implants for women who were treated privately.
Lansley has ruled out England following suit.
Welsh health minister Lesley Griffiths said not replacing the implants could endanger women's health.
Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Dr Daniel Poulter, said there had been an explosion of cosmetic procedures in England over the past decade, driven by celebrity culture and programmes such as The Only Way Is Essex.
"Not everyone who carries out these invasive procedures is properly qualified, and procedures such as dermal fillers and Botox injections have the potential to make this a cowboy industry. We need to protect women and have a proper framework," he told the Guardian.
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