Despite numerous stories of unethical and dodgy procedures that have prompted scrutiny of the plastic surgery industry, doctors will soon be able to receive an official “endorsement in cosmetic surgery” from the Medical Board of Australia without undertaking the proper training to become surgeons.
The change was made in an attempt to regulate the problematic industry after a 2022 investigation which revealed dozens of people had been left injured and disfigured after botched surgeries performed by improperly trained doctors.
The investigation was followed by calls from state and federal pollies to improve safety in the industry, and in December changes were made to ban doctors without the right qualifications from calling themselves cosmetic “surgeons”. So, it’s then confusing (read: completely nonsensical) that just months after that change, the Medical Board of Australia will be able to grant endorsements to doctors who want to perform cosmetic surgery regardless of whether they have the proper training for it.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which is in charge of surgical training and qualifications, reckons this endorsement is just asking for things to go wrong — and it’s one of six health groups that signed an open letter urging the government to rethink the change.
The body accused Health Minister Mark Butler of ignoring its advice and pointed out the important question of why TF we need this “endorsement” when there are already proper qualifications cosmetic surgeons could be obtaining? You know, like the training provided at this very college, which takes a minimum of five years?
“Cosmetic surgery is invasive surgery, it’s real surgery, and it should be done by medical practitioners who are trained surgeons, with the agency-accredited training college,” said Sally Langley, the president of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, per Sydney Morning Herald.
“We are disappointed that our submissions don’t seem to have been acknowledged and that we, the experts in field, have not been appropriately consulted about this. Patients deserve well-trained surgeons and they are misled by some of the practitioners out there.”
However, a spokeswoman for the Health Department said its medical board and the Australian Medical Council did consult heaps of experts in the industry, and maintained that the move was to go ahead and will likely be implemented in mid-2023.
“The training program leading to the qualification also must be accredited by an independent accreditation authority,” the spokeswoman explained.
“Once established, it will be easy for consumers to identify whether a practitioner is qualified to perform cosmetic surgery as the endorsement will be listed on the [regulator’s] public register.”
This might sound good but as pointed out by Tim Edwards, president of the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, there are no actual details as to what this training is, who conducts it or how any of this will work.