Standards set for practitioners offering non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Health Education England has published recommendations about minimum qualifications required for healthcare professionals to carry out cosmetic procedures, such as Botox and dermal fillers.

Pharmacists who want to offer non-surgical facial dermal fillers and Botox will have to complete a postgraduate level qualification, according to recommendations by Health Education England. In the image, a woman receives botox injections

Pharmacists and other practitioners who want to offer non-surgical facial dermal fillers and Botox will have to complete a postgraduate level qualification, according to recommendations drawn up by Health Education England.

The recommendations, set out in two reports published on 8 January 2016, are an attempt by the organisation responsible for NHS workforce education and training to introduce quality standards and qualifications in a sector that is currently unregulated and is worth around £3.6bn in the UK.

“In the future, if a case of negligence is brought to court, the document will be used as a reference to check if the practitioner was competent,” says pharmacist Nazia Hussain, an advanced aesthetic practitioner who sat on the HEE expert advisory group that helped draw up the recommendations. “Failure to comply could result in [health professionals] being reprimanded or even struck off by [their] professional bodies,” she adds.

The first report sets out the qualification requirements for different types of cosmetic procedures, while the second sets out recommendations for implementing the requirements. The recommendations are endorsed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the General Pharmaceutical Council.

The documents were developed in response to the conclusions of the Keogh review of the cosmetics and beauty industry, published in 2013, which found that there were no restrictions on who may perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures, no qualification requirements and no accredited training courses.

“Although not legal regulation, practice will change over time as such standards act as a benchmark for trainers, suppliers, employers, insurers and indeed the public,” says Sophie Riddell, a consultant cosmetic pharmacist. “Good education and appropriate supervision is fundamental to public safety.”

HEE focuses on five procedures: botulinum toxins; dermal fillers; chemical peels and skin rejuvenation; laser, intense pulsed light and light emitting diode; and hair restoration surgery. It sets out the minimum level of qualification that HEE expects for each procedure and the standards expected of those delivering the service.

The recommended qualifications start with a minimum level 4 (equivalent to a first year foundation degree) but for certain non-surgical cosmetic procedures, such as those that involve injections into the face, the associated risks mean that a level 7 postgraduate qualification is needed. HEE also recommends cases where practitioners need to be supervised.

Pharmacists interested in delivering procedures covered in the reports will be exempt from completing some of the training modules. There are no exclusions for pharmacy technicians or pharmacy assistants.

Although the recommendations are voluntary, HEE hopes that they will be adopted by the industry by September 2018.

“We recognise it will take some time to move to a situation where the new qualifications are available to those wishing to enter or continue to work in this field, and we appreciate that … we must not impose unreasonable or disproportionate burdens on businesses [already delivering treatments],” the implementation report says.

“However, at the heart of our mission has been our quest to improve patient protection. Our recommendation for the standards to be in operation by September 2018 recognises our concerns and public expectations as expressed in the Keogh Review.”

Source: Nadia Attura

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says the guidance provides much-needed clarity for pharmacists wanting to provide cosmetic procedures

Ash Soni, RPS president, says the guidance provides pharmacists wanting to provide cosmetic procedures with “much-needed clarity” on the qualifications needed to provide high-quality care.

Both Riddell and Hussain say there is a lot of interest among pharmacists wanting to enter the field, particularly those working within community pharmacies. But neither believe that community pharmacy is the right setting for cosmetic procedures to be carried out.

“It is important to differentiate between healthcare service provision and non-healthcare service provision,” says Riddell. “They are different and require a different skill set.”




Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2016, Vol 296, No 7885;296(7885):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200437

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