This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

GPhC failing to take proactive approach to aesthetics safety

Clinical news

GPhC failing to take proactive approach to aesthetics safety

By Neil Trainis

Exclusive: Kent LPC chair Amish Patel has said he has never been asked by the General Pharmaceutical Council to supply it with information about the non-medical aesthetics services he provides four years after the regulator co-established an intelligence-gathering system to ensure the public receives safe and high-quality treatments.

Mr Patel, an independent prescriber who has provided non-surgical aesthetics services such as dermal fillers and Botox from Hodgson Pharmacy in Kent over the last six years or so, told Independent Community Pharmacist that a framework set up in 2018 by the GPhC and Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) to make sure “effective channels of communication and information-sharing are established and maintained between” the two bodies has failed to reduce the likelihood of harm to patients.

Mr Patel said he did not believe the GPhC had the “capacity” to keep track of all registrants who are rolling out non-surgical medical aesthetics treatments and accused the regulator of taking a reactive rather than proactive approach to ensuring such services are safe and effective.

When asked if the GPhC had asked him for any information on his services in the last four years as part of its information-sharing framework, he said: “Nothing. Nothing at all. I don’t think the GPhC has the capacity to monitor everyone that’s doing this as a private clinic service. There’s a number of pharmacists who’ll doing this from an out-building at the back of the garden or an annex for example.

“[The GPhC] can just about keep up with regulating pharmacies and any pharmacist who might be brought into disrepute. They were the times to go and manage all these other things. So, I guess it’s a case of ‘let’s expect pharmacists to do the right thing, adhere to professional standards and all kind of stuff and until then, we won’t bother you.’”

Mr Patel, who is registered with Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners who provide non-surgical cosmetic treatments, also said the GPhC and JCCP’s framework had failed to uphold safety standards because there are a number of non-healthcare professionals providing non-surgical aesthetics.

Describing the situation as “absolutely shocking” and calling for better regulation of the non-surgical aesthetics industry, he claimed some healthcare professionals had de-registered themselves so they can provide aesthetics without regulatory scrutiny. However, he insisted he did not know of any pharmacist who had done this.

“As well pharmacy-advocating, I do a lot of advocating in this sector as well, separate to community pharmacy, on how non-healthcare professionals should not be allowed to train to inject Botox and so on. There’s been an exponential increase in non-health professionals offering these services,” Patel said.

“I’ve been in WhatsApp groups with nurses where it’s kind of like ‘I’m better de-registering myself as a healthcare professional and offering these services because then I’ll not be under any scrutiny whatsoever and can do so much more.’

“I’ve really advocated hard that there needs to be more regulation brought in in this area to keep it a healthcare professional service to keep it safe. But at the moment, patient safety in this area is really worrying.”

Mr Patel used thread lifts, a cosmetic procedure where a patient’s skin is tightened when medical-grade thread material is inserted into their face before it is pulled up, as an example of an aesthetics treatment that could be provided by “Joe Bloggs off the street tomorrow.” 

“It’s a complex procedure but it’s relatively simple in the grand scheme of things. As a healthcare professional, I have to be Care Quality Commission-registered to offer that treatment. The beautician down the road who is not a healthcare professional is not governed by CQC but can offer that thread service completely without any kind of regulation. That’s crazy," he said.

Responding to Mr Patel’s remarks, the GPhC told ICP it does not collect or hold information about the different services individual pharmacists provide and does not possess data on how many pharmacists are offering aesthetic services. 

However, it said its inspectors “would look at the different services a pharmacy would offer, including medical aesthetic services” during an inspection and insisted that all pharmacists must meet its standards and “follow relevant guidance when providing any services, including aesthetic services".

The GPhC also said pharmacists prescribing non-surgical cosmetic products must follow its prescribing guidance.

Copy Link copy link button

Clinical news