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Ministers flag cosmetic surgery crackdown

Cosmetic surgeons could be banned from using patient testimonials, face minimum hygiene standards and be barred from calling themselves surgeons if they are not, under proposed reforms.

Health ministers across the country met on Friday, with federal minister Mark Butler looking to “rein in the cosmetic cowboys”.

Other potential reforms also include ensuring those practising cosmetic procedures are qualified and patients are better inform of their rights and the risks.

“These cosmetic cowboys have been riding unchecked for years,” Mr Butler said.

“(It is) an industry that has come to resemble the Wild West.

“Australians deserve to have confidence in the safety and quality of the cosmetic surgery industry and these changes will provide that.”

It follows a series of damning revelations into the industry in an independent report released on Thursday.

The inquiry from former Queensland Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown found unsafe practices, misleading advertising and a need for minimum standards on qualifications.

Any medical practitioner can perform invasive cosmetic surgery without appropriate training.

The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons welcomed the proposed reforms and took a shot at the regulator for failing to act sooner.

“It’s a sad day for healthcare in Australia when the elected representatives of the people have been forced to step in and do the job that the regulator has consistently failed to do,” president Dr Robert Sheen said.

The regulator, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority, has been dogged by criticism that it has failed act as it attempted to limit actions.

“The regulator has shown that this (proposed reform) is beyond the current leadership’s ability and interest,” Dr Sheen said.

In October, a joint investigation by Nine newspapers and the ABC’into controversial cosmetic surgeons uncovered serious hygiene and safety breaches across various clinics.

This resulted in the Medical Board of Australia taking action against several practitioners.

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