The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) is launching a range of new tools and services to improve the quality of care for cosmetic surgery patients. In spring 2016, the RCS resources will be freely available online for patients, surgeons and providers of cosmetic surgery to help patients to make the best decision about their choice of procedure, surgeon and hospital.  

The new guidance is aimed at helping patients to:

  • find a certified surgeon and the right hospital for them
  • know what questions to ask a prospective surgeon and what to discuss during the pre-operative preparation and consultations
  • access a range of clear, credible and unbiased information about cosmetic surgical procedures and what to expect
  • help them make an informed decision about whether or not to undergo a procedure.

The guidance will also help surgeons to demonstrate the quality of care they can offer and to review outcomes and, where necessary, improve practice. Providers of cosmetic surgery will also be able to assess the quality and safety of their services and to ensure that people are provided with safe, effective and high-quality care.

Although most cosmetic surgeons provide good care to their patients, the 2013 Keogh review highlighted an urgent need for regulation of cosmetic practices. The RCS has been working with patients, surgical professional associations, healthcare organisations, regulators, government departments and providers to make recommendations for the cosmetic surgery sector. These can be read in full on the Department of Health’s website.

The recommendations are broadly divided into the following areas:

  • developing standardised patient information
  • identifying clinical outcome measures
  • setting standards for training and practice (particularly on ethical issues)
  • establishing a system of certification.

Elise Bevan, a solicitor in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: “We welcome this new guidance from the RCS. The cosmetic sector is a rapidly expanding area that has gone from being a niche market to a widely available and popular service. But there are concerns about patient safety - particularly for vulnerable patients who may be sold multiple procedures and undergo unnecessary treatments. We hope that this guidance is the first step in the right direction to tighten standards and protect patients from these risks.”