Industry update: Health and Care Bill (Potential Licensing Scheme)
In February, an amendment was made to the Health and Care Bill to give the Secretary of State the power to introduce a licensing scheme for cosmetic procedures in England. The Bill received royal assent in April, but no legislation has been prepared or passed to license cosmetic procedures.
Save Face have been in dialogue with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and government officials throughout the process and will continue to contribute to any discussions or stakeholder meetings that relate to aesthetic practice.
Since the amendment was announced, we have received several queries from concerned practitioners asking how this will impact on their practice.
It is clear from the enquiries we have received that there is a lot of ill-informed speculation and misinformation being disseminated as fact.
Considering this, we thought it would be useful to share an update to help you decipher the truth from the propaganda. Outlined below is a factual summary of the information currently available.
What is being proposed?
The amendment to the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to introduce regulations that may prohibit practitioners from carrying out specified cosmetic procedures in the course of business, unless the person has a licence; and may prohibit a person from using or permitting the use of premises in England for carrying out specified cosmetic procedures in the course of business, unless the person has a premises licence.
No such regulations have been written or introduced yet, and the Bill clearly states that:
‘Before making regulations under this section, the Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate’.
The scope and details of any future regulations will be set out in secondary legislation and will be the product of an extensive stakeholder engagement exercise and public consultation.
The public consultation will be carried out to assess the risks and benefits of implementing such a scheme before any decision is made to proceed. This is a lengthy process, and it is likely to take several years.
Currently, there are various licensing schemes in place across UK that regulate activities such as tattooing and acupuncture. Whether or not licensing will be a suitable and a fit for purpose model to regulate this complex and diverse sector is still subject to discussion. During the public consultation, you will be able to contribute your own views as to whether a licensing scheme will be robust enough to address the risks that exist within the sector.
Who will it apply to?
At the moment, there is NO defined inclusion or exclusion criteria. However, based on government policy and APPG recommendations it is extremely likely that any scheme will be inclusive of both medical and non-medical practitioners.
One common misconception that we have been made aware of is this notion that all practitioners who are not registered healthcare professionals will be ‘banned’ from carrying out aesthetic treatments if licensing goes ahead.
During the debate stages of the Bill, Lord Kamall who tabled the amendment said that the intention of the amendment was:
‘to put in place a licensing regime that works for both consumers and providers, protecting those who choose to receive cosmetic procedures without placing unnecessary restrictions on legitimate businesses’.
What treatments will be included?
As this is still only at the ‘amendment’ stage, the definitions are very broad to ensure that if legislation is introduced, new treatment modalities can be included. The current definition of ‘cosmetic procedure’ within the amendment states:
“cosmetic procedure” means a procedure, other than a surgical or dental procedure, that is or may be carried out for cosmetic purposes; and the reference to a procedure includes— (a) the injection of a substance; (b) the application of a substance that is capable of penetrating into or through the epidermis; (c) the insertion of needles into the skin; (d) the placing of threads under the skin; (e) the application of light, electricity, cold or heat;
Training and education standards.
There is a lot of misleading information being circulated about this, we have received several queries from practitioners who have been told that they must have a Level 7 qualification in order to practice. The simple fact is that nothing has been decided upon with regards to training and educational standards. As part of a recent dialogue with the DHSC, they confirmed:
‘I can confirm that no decisions have been made re: the qualification levels that will apply to the licensing scheme – work in this area will be informed by stakeholders and a public consultation’.
If I am already regulated, will I have to get a licence?
As the amendment has not been made into legislation, nor has the scope been expanded upon, there is no information available at this time.
Any decisions will be made following the public consultation. However, it is important to note that under current licensing schemes across the UK certain exemptions apply to practitioners who are already regulated by other schemes. For example, in Wales, acupuncturists who are listed on a PSA accredited register are exempt from the licensing requirements.
How long is this likely to take?
The DHSC and the Government have not stipulated a timeline for when it may start to look into this further. If and when things progress, the process will start with a public consultation to assess the merits and risks of the scheme. If there is a case to move forward, it will be followed by a lengthy period where the scheme will need to be fully scoped out and written into legislation.
We can draw a reasonable comparison in terms of a likely timeline by assessing a similar passing of Law in Wales. In 2015, it was proposed as part of The Public Health (Wales) Act to incorporate a licensing scheme for special procedures. The amendment was accepted, and the Bill was passed in 2017. The implementation of the scheme is scheduled to commence and become enforceable from January 2024.
What can I do now to ensure I am practicing to the highest standards?
Save Face currently upholds the highest standards that exist for non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Our standards incorporate all regulatory and professional standards requirements as well as sector specific best practices. Our accreditation model is designed to ensure that practitioners can implement and uphold a medical model in all aspects of their practice to safeguard themselves and their patients. Upon registration, we provide you with all the practical tools and resources you need to implement the required standards and our assessment processes verify that they have been appropriately applied. Being Save Face Accredited provides assurance to the public and gives practitioners the confidence of knowing that their practice meets our government approved standards.
Ongoing communication and updates:
Save Face will continue to contribute and engage with the DHSC and the Government on this topic and will keep you abreast with any changes and developments as and when they occur.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
Health and Social Care Committee on The impact of body image on mental and physical health