Reckless: Surgeons warn health ministers that cosmetic cowboy reforms will fail

Reckless: Surgeons warn health ministers that cosmetic cowboy reforms will fail
April 14, 2023 Sheree Moko

The changes are dangerous and patients will pay the price, they say.
Surgeons say an endorsement model for accrediting cosmetic surgeons will fail to stop unscrupulous doctors from operating on patients.  Health ministers last month agreed to the reforms as part of a suite of changes aimed at tightening up the cosmetic surgery industry following a spate of high-profile cases of patients being harmed.

Under the model now being set up by the Australian Medical Council (AMC), a new category of practitioners will be able to receive an ‘endorsement to practice’ cosmetic surgery.  The idea is to grant it only to those doctors who had undertaken a specific qualification approved by the Medical Board of Australia.

However medical groups including the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) want it scrapped.  “What the AMC is doing is, rather than enforcing their own rules of surgical training, they are creating an alternative pathway that rewards those who have chosen to ignore the recognised surgical qualification in Australia,” said Dr Timothy Edwards, ASAPS president.

“This is dangerous, and patients pay the price.
“Calling for an independent standard for cosmetic surgery is incredibly reckless.
“Why should cosmetic surgery have any lesser standards than all other forms of surgery, where lives are permanently changed by a procedure?”  He said if the AMC introduces a cosmetic surgery training program for surgeons other than plastic surgeons, he would have no objection — so long as it occurred under the umbrella of the surgeons college and led to a FRACS.  “Now we have the ridiculous scenario of the AMC and AHPRA trying to invent an ‘endorsement’ for cosmetic surgery, one that does not hold the FRACS as a prerequisite.”

ASAPS, along with five other medical groups, have penned an open letter calling for an “an urgent rethink”.  It comes as the AMC finalises new standards for the endorsement model.  But Dr Edwards said the council’s draft standards were short on detail, including who will supervise the doctors and how they will get hands-on experience.