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MPs call for speed up of legislation on non-surgical procedures and labelling of retouched images

Lauretta Roberts
02 August 2022

MPs from Parliament's Health and Social Care Committee have called on the Government to speed up the introduction of regulation of non-surgical cosmetic procedures and for the labelling of retouched images. 

The calls follow the publication earlier this year of a report that examines the impact of body image on mental and physical health, which identified a rise in body image dissatisfaction as the driver behind the rise in non-surgical cosmetic procedures, which is a market that to date has remained largely unregulated.

The Government has new powers to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, however a consultation on what that regime should look like is still awaited.

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt said a timetable was now urgently required: “The government must act urgently to end the situation where anyone can carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures, regardless of training or qualifications. We heard of some distressing experiences – a conveyor belt approach with procedures carried out with no questions asked, procedures that have gone wrong, the use of filthy premises.

"It was clear throughout our inquiry that some groups are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in this growing market that has gone largely unregulated. We need a timetable now for a licensing regime with patient safety at its centre to reduce those risks.

"We hope that ministers will listen to our recommendations and set about creating the safety standards that anyone seeking treatment has a right to expect.”

In its recommendations for legislation for non-surgical cosmetics procedures, the report suggests:

  • A licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures to include a commitment to a two-part consent process for anyone considering having a non-surgical cosmetic procedure, including, at a minimum, a full medical and mental health history, as well as a mandatory 48-hour cooling off period between the consent process and undergoing the procedure.
  • Specific premises standards for all beauty salons and non-CQC registered premises providing non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Local Authority Enforcement Officers should be given extended powers to enforce compliance with a nationally agreed set of premises standards.
  • A minimum standard to be met in regards to the education and training of practitioners who perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The Professional Standards Authority should be given the power to oversee a register of approved training providers. All training providers should have to meet an Ofqual-regulated standard.
  • A review of the licencing of dermal fillers to be prescription-only substances, in line with Botox, in order to provide more protection for people undertaking procedures involving dermal fillers.
  • The establishment of a "Non-Surgical Cosmetic Procedures" safety taskforce that comprises each of the regulatory bodies that have input into the sector, including the MHRA, the nine statutory bodies, the ASA and stakeholders like the JCCP, Save Face and other industry bodies. This taskforce’s remit should be centred on patient safety and should include, but not be limited to, examining the issues of remote prescribing, appropriateness of premises, education and training standards as well as accountability and governance.

The report said it welcomed the decision to ban the advertising of non-surgical cosmetic procedures to under-18s

MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee also say that legislation should include the requirement for "doctored" commercial images, including digitally altered influencer content, to be clearly labelled. The MPs have called on the Government  to work with advertisers to feature a wider variety of body aesthetics, and work with industry and the ASA to encourage advertisers and influencers not to doctor their images.

"We believe the Government should introduce legislation that ensures commercial images are labelled with a logo where any part of the body, including its proportions and skin tone, are digitally altered," the MPs recommend.

Read the full recommendations of the Body Image report here.

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