It is not often you get the chance to be involved in something that is genuinely leading the way. But Scotland, and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, are doing just that in ensuring that people who choose to have cosmetic interventions are able to do so in safe and regulated environments.
The need to provide such assurances is clear: the number of people choosing to have cosmetic procedures in Scotland is increasing; in fact, more than 50,000 people in the UK opted for such procedures last year, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Although there are many reputable clinics and practitioners operating across Scotland, like any sector or industry, there are some that do not maintain sufficiently high standards. For someone about to use the service, confidence in the clinic you are using is a major concern and, until recently, private cosmetic procedures were one of the least regulated areas of healthcare.
The law that came into force in Scotland in April 2016 requires all independent clinics to be registered with Healthcare Improvement Scotland. We are now able to say that there are over 200 clinics all across the country that are now registered or nearing completion of their registration with Healthcare Improvement Scotland and inspections of registered clinics have now begun.
The benefits for people
Although registration is now a legal requirement, it also brings clear benefits for both the independent clinics and their customers.
This system will help improve safety for those people who opt for cosmetic procedures and ensure that independent clinics continue to improve the services that they provide.
Registered independent clinics will be able to demonstrate to their patients and the public that they operate to the highest standards and are committed to continual improvement.
In addition, registration and inspection by Healthcare Improvement Scotland offers extra reassurance for patients and the public.
We can also take enforcement action where services present a serious risk to the safety and wellbeing of their patients. Members of the public who are unhappy with the services they have received from a registered independent clinic can also make a complaint to us.
The aim is to support improvements in the services people use and regulation of independent clinics is one of many ways in which Healthcare Improvement Scotland is supporting better care across Scotland.
Scotland still has some way to go to ensure that all cosmetic treatments are provided safely and by trained professionals operating to the highest standards, but Scotland has made a bold move that puts us ahead of many other countries who are yet to tackle the issue.
For those thinking about a cosmetic treatment
Our advice to anyone interested in getting cosmetic treatments is to consult the list of regulated clinics on our website (www.healthcareimprovemetnscotland.org). The list will provide them with assurance that the provider aspires to the highest standards, that it is independently inspected and that those who use their services have somewhere to go if they are unhappy with the treatment they’ve received.
If you would like to find out more about registration, please call the Independent Healthcare Enquiry Line on 0131 623 4342, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To access our list of registered clinics, visit www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org.
Kevin Freeman-Ferguson is Head of Service Review at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.