Docs want details on cosmetic crackdown

·2-min read

Australian doctors have called on health ministers across the country to quickly detail and act on proposed changes to the cosmetic surgery sector.

Under proposed reforms cosmetic practitioners could be banned from using patient testimonials, face minimum hygiene standards and be barred from calling themselves surgeons if they are not qualified.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Professor Steve Robson said governments needed to quickly and clearly specify who could call themselves a surgeon.

"Health ministers have finally seen the light and taken the action we've been calling for," Prof Robson said on Saturday.

Health ministers agreed to the proposed changes after they met on Friday, with federal minister Mark Butler looking to "rein in the cosmetic cowboys".

The AMA wants more detail around the proposals quickly, saying the devil is in the detail.

Prof Robson said Friday's agreement meant Queensland should rethink plans to allow patient testimonials in medical advertising.

Some cosmetic procedure practitioners are using social media to dodge a national ban on testimonials in medical advertising.

Other reforms proposed on Friday include ensuring those practising cosmetic procedures are qualified and patients are better informed of their rights and the risks.

"These cosmetic cowboys have been riding unchecked for years," Mr Butler said.

"(It is) an industry that has come to resemble the Wild West."

It follows a series of damning revelations into the industry in an independent report released on Thursday.

The inquiry from former Queensland Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown found unsafe practices, misleading advertising and a need for minimum standards on qualifications.

Any medical practitioner can perform invasive cosmetic surgery without appropriate training.

The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons welcomed the proposed reforms and took a shot at the regulator for failing to act sooner.

"It's a sad day for healthcare in Australia when the elected representatives of the people have been forced to step in and do the job that the regulator has consistently failed to do," president Robert Sheen said.

The regulator, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority, has been dogged by criticism that it has failed to act as it attempted to limit actions.

"The regulator has shown that this (proposed reform) is beyond the current leadership's ability and interest," Dr Sheen said.

In October, a joint investigation by Nine newspapers and the ABC into controversial cosmetic surgeons uncovered serious hygiene and safety breaches across various clinics.

This resulted in the Medical Board of Australia taking action against several practitioners.