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GMC publishes new guidance for doctors carrying out cosmetic procedures

The General Medical Council has published what it claims are "Tough new standards for doctors carrying out cosmetic procedures".

The guidance says that any advertising must be clear, factual, and not use promotional tactics.  Patients must be given time for reflection – they must have the time and information about risks, to decide whether to go ahead with a procedure. Patients should not feel rushed or pressured.

Doctors are required to seek a patient’s consent themselves – the doctor carrying out a cosmetic procedure is responsible for discussing it with the patient, providing them with the information and support they need, and for obtaining their consent. This responsibility must not be delegated.

The guidance requires doctors tow support patient safety – making full and accurate records of consultations, using systems to identify and act on any patient safety concerns, and contributing to programmes to monitor quality and outcomes.

GMC guidance for doctors carrying out cosmetic procedures

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Doctors who carry out cosmetic procedures anywhere in the UK are being issued with new guidance by the General Medical Council (GMC) to make sure they provide the best possible care for patients.

Our new guidance is designed to help drive up standards in the cosmetic industry and make sure all patients, and especially those who are most vulnerable, are given the care, treatment and support they need.

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC.

The guidance makes clear the ethical obligations doctors have towards patients and the standards of care they need to provide.

It has been produced following a review of the cosmetic industry in England by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. His report highlighted the risks associated with cosmetic interventions and how patients needed greater protection.

The new GMC guidance comes into force from June, and covers both surgical (such as breast augmentation) and non-surgical (such as Botox) procedures.
The guidance says that doctors must:

Advertise and market services responsibly – any advertising must be clear, factual, and not use promotional tactics, such as ‘two-for-one’ offers to encourage patients to make ill-considered decisions. It also includes a ban on offering procedures as prizes. Doctors must not allow others to misrepresent their services.

Give patients time for reflection – make sure they have the time and information about risks, to decide whether to go ahead with a procedure. Patients should not feel rushed or pressured.

Seek a patient’s consent themselves – the doctor carrying out a cosmetic procedure is responsible for discussing it with the patient, providing them with the information and support they need, and for obtaining their consent. This responsibility must not be delegated.

Provide continuity of care – the doctor must make sure patients know who to contact and how their care will be managed if they experience any complications, and that they have full details of any medicines or implants.

Support patient safety – making full and accurate records of consultations, using systems to identify and act on any patient safety concerns, and contributing to programmes to monitor quality and outcomes, including registers for devices such as breast implants.

See the GMC's Guidance.

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