Quality assurance scheme for botox clinics

People planning on having Botox and other facial treatments will be able to check the credibility of their clinic under a Government-backed scheme announced today.

Individual practitioners and entire organisations are being invited to apply for an industry "seal of approval" on safety and quality.

The scheme applies to injectable cosmetic treatments, including dermal fillers, and follows criticism of the failure to tackle "rogue" medics.

Registered nurses, doctors and dentists will fill out self-assessment forms listing their qualifications and training and will be asked for supporting documents.

They will also be judged against industry standards on managing medicines, infection control and appropriate environments.

Clinics will be able to register all their staff and will be subject to "spot checks" with 24 hours' notice.

The charity Action against Medical Accidents gave the move a cautious welcome but criticised the Government for not introducing statutory regulation.

There are thought to be 5,000 clinics in the UK carrying out an estimated 200,000 facial filler treatments a year.

The Independent Healthcare Advisory Services (IHAS) will run the new scheme, which has received a one-off Department of Health grant of £200,000.

Clinics and practitioners will receive an IHAS Quality Assurance Mark and will have to reapply for certification every year.

Health minister Mike O'Brien said: "Quality-marking the organisations that provide injectable cosmetic treatments, such as Botox and wrinkle fillers, will help protect the public from unscrupulous operators.

"It will clearly mark those who uphold the highest standards the industry can provide.

"This is why I have given my support and Government funding to help set up the scheme.

"It will enable people who choose to have these treatments to be better informed of the risks and choices available to them."

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, chair of the IHAS shared regulation group, said: "With growth of an estimated 25% of treatments carried out last year alone, the industry and the Department of Health recognised the need to safeguard patients by creating a system of registration and certification to reduce the risk of poor practice within the sector."

Sally Taber, director at the IHAS, said: "The IHAS Quality Assurance Scheme will protect patients by providing them with a list of registered providers that comply with good practice standards for injectable cosmetic treatments."

A website for the scheme will list organisations and practitioners that have been accepted for registration and certification.

Clinics and practitioners will be charged a registration fee, which will be put back into running the scheme.

The Harley Medical Group, Transform and Sk:n have said they will register their clinics once the scheme goes live in the next month, the IHAS said.