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Shocking new statistics fail to shock surgeons

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons ‘Sadly Unsurprised’ by Findings

London – 16 September, 2010 – Hot on the heels of the launch of a 'toothless' voluntary register for cosmetic injectables, a damning new report specific to purely surgical procedures is being published by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD). The extensive study was welcomed today by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (, the not-for-profit organisation established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit.

NCEPOD found that nearly three quarters (70%) of clinics in the sector operate effectively unregulated, that 8 out of 10 (79%) of providers offering complex surgeries such as breast reduction do not perform these anywhere near enough to maintain an appropriate skill set and that a third (32%) do not even allow patients a ‘cooling off’ period when they book procedures. Less than half (44%) of operating theatres were properly equipped to perform surgery and one in ten of the clinics actually ceased to exist between being identified and being approached.

According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS President Nigel Mercer;

“These figures present a distressing picture, but one which is sadly not surprising to us as they only confirm what we have been saying for years – that there is an absolute need for statutory regulation in this sector. Aesthetic surgery needs to be recognised as the multi-million pound specialty it is and not just a fragmented ‘cottage industry’. The BAAPS have a proven track record in promoting patient safety and education, and has long been calling for enforceable regulation of this sector of medicine. Just as someone eating in a restaurant wouldn’t have to personally inspect the kitchen, the public should have the right to expect providers of aesthetic surgery to be properly overseen and regulated on their behalf by our Government.”

Report highlights

Over one in ten clinics (11.5%) ceased to exist between being identified and being approached to take part

Nearly 70% refused to participate in the study (as per Care Quality Commission requirement) and are, therefore, effectively not regulated

One in five (20%) of centres that offer breast augmentation and a staggering 55% of those offering breast reduction perform these ops less than 10 times a year

One in ten sites couldn’t provide data on the number of procedures performed

Routine psychological assessments were carried out in less than 35% of sites

Of the nearly 9 out of 10 (88.6%) that advertise, over a quarter (26%) promote special offers and discounts

Nearly a third (32%) of providers don't offer a two-stage deferred consent process, i.e., a ‘cooling off period’ after booking surgery

Only slightly over half (56%) always do the initial patient consultation with a consultant surgeon

Less than half (44%) of operating theatres were properly equipped and over one in five (22%) didn’t have a member of resuscitation staff on duty at all time

A third don't have out-of-hours consultant rota or a Level 2 (high dependency) unit

One in five (18%) had no emergency re-admissions policy and relied on the NHS to deal with any complications

Nigel Mercer says;

“We agree with the overall recommendations from this report: Proper training is essential and needs to be lifelong and easily available - in fact we’re holding our Annual Scientific Meeting next week, which is attended by trainees and surgeons alike. It is essential for all surgeons to keep up to date and to aware of the latest techniques. People considering aesthetic surgery should also be properly assessed before treatment and we have helped develop tools and checklists to ensure that patients are properly screened psychologically, which is now part of every patient's assessment. The NCEPOD study also questions whether medical malpractice organisations should continue to indemnify practitioners who are unable to demonstrate competence. The BAAPS has set up a malpractice insurance scheme, tailored specifically and available only to surgeons who have good claims histories. All BAAPS members also have to submit an annual audit of procedures and complications as a membership requirement. ”

He adds;

“The fact that some providers perform some procedures only occasionally demonstrates that, even now, some surgeons are prepared to ‘have a go’ when they’re clearly not competent enough – at the cost of the patient’s safety. A coroner stated recently that aesthetic surgery should be primarily about safety and not just about what you (the surgeon and patient) can ‘get way with’! ”

ENDSThe BAAPS (, based at the Royal College of Surgeons, is a not-for-profit organisation, established for the advancement of education and practice of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery for public benefit. Members undergo thorough background screening before they can join. Information about specific procedures and surgeons’ contact details can be found on the website, or by contacting their office at 020 7430 1840. Further materials can be posted to members of the public seeking specialised information. BAAPS is also on Twitter:   and Facebook:

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