Two former NHS nurses have been captured on camera offering to inject Botox illegally as part of a BBC investigation revealing the alarming scale of the uncontrolled cosmetic business operating beyond the law.
Both men were struck off the nursing register for other misdemeanours but they have continued to hold “Botox parties” across the West Midlands, according to BBC One’s Inside Out.
The revelations highlight the need for better regulation of the non-surgical cosmetic industry which experts have warned is a “crisis waiting to happen” because of the lack of consumer protection and licensing, and the rise in unscrupulous practitioners.
One of the former nurses, Jonathan Henk, who calls himself “Jonny Botox”, offered to inject a reporter posing as a customer in her own kitchen, telling her that he has been a nurse for 26 years when in fact he was struck off in 2012 for having sex with a vulnerable patient when he was a psychiatric nurse, the BBC alleged.
Mr Henk has never held the nursing qualifications needed to prescribe any drugs, including Botox, which is a prescription-only medicine used to relax the facial muscles involved in skin wrinkling, the corporation said.
One of Mr Henk’s customers, a 52-year-old woman from Tamworth called Diane, complained about the treatment she received from him.
“I had headaches on the night and for a couple of days after. It felt like someone had put an axe in my head….I’m devastated, I trusted him to do treatment on my face,” she said.
Reporters for the programme spoke to ten former patients who said they were unhappy with the treatment they received from Mr Henk. They complained of being left in pain, and some had swollen foreheads after the injections.
When the BBC interviewed Mr Henk, he admitted that he should not have prescribed Botox – which is a criminal offence if the prescriber is struck off or unqualified – and said that some customers had complained that it had not worked.
“I only know one person who was really unhappy….If they are unhappy with the service and they want a refund, that’s fine,” Mr Henk told the BBC.
The second nurse, James Kearsey, is suspended from the nursing register for hiding a conviction of assault from his hospital bosses, the programme alleges. He was also caught on camera offering the BBC reporter Botox injections at his home clinic in Stourbridge.
Although some nurses can prescribe Botox legally if they have the necessary prescribing diploma, they are not legally allowed to do so if they lack the qualification or if they have been struck off the nursing register.
The BBC alleges that Mr Kersey illegally prescribed Botox, which he stores at his home. He has repeatedly refused to respond to requests for a statement or interview from the programme makers, the BBC said.
“The BBC repeatedly approached James Kearsey in writing and then in person but he’s refused to comment on the allegations,” said a BBC spokeswoman.
Rajiv Grover, former president of the British Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said Botox can only be given to someone on prescription, although it can actually be administered by anyone without medical qualifications.
“If they are struck off, they are breaking the law if the prescribe it. If they are not a suitably qualified medical professional, it’s a criminal office,” Dr Grover said.
In addition to Botox injections, which are supposed to eliminate unwanted wrinkles, the other uncontrolled area of cosmetic treatment is the injection of dermal fillers, which are supposed to fill out the fatty areas of the skin lost through ageing.
“As things stand at the moment, my dog has better protection in law than patients undergoing dermal-filling treatment,” Dr Grover said.
Jackie Smith, the chief executive of the Nursing Midwifery Council, said: "As Mr Kearsey is currently temporarily suspended from the register, he should not be undertaking any activity that would be done by a registered nurse, including prescribing medicines.
"In relation to Mr Henk who has been struck off the register, he should not be claiming to be a registered nurse or undertaking any activity that would require him to be on the professional register, including prescribing medicines. To do so is a criminal offence. We have asked the BBC to provide us with further information so that we can consider whether we need to report this serious allegation to the police.”
A Government review on the cosmetic industry published in 2013 pointed out that non-surgical treatment – namely Botox injections and dermal fillers – is largely beyond any regulations or control.
“In fact, a person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush,” said Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, in his foreword to the 2013 report.
It is estimated that the business of cosmetic surgery and other non-surgical “interventions” is worth about £3.6bn a year, much of which is almost entirely unregulated, Sir Bruce said.
Inside Out, BBC One, 7.30pmReuse content