Botox ‘shortcomings’ and ‘breaches' found in probe of 200 providers, says Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann has told Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan ‘shortcomings in prescribing processes and breaches of advertising legislation’ were identified in an enforcement and compliance programme involving over 200 botox providers in the north.

A review of botox providers in the north has found shortcomings.
A review of botox providers in the north has found shortcomings.

Mr. Swann said clinics carrying out non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments such as Botox or dermal fillers are not required to register with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

However, he confirmed officials recently carried out an investigation into local providers who inject Botulinum Toxin Type A – the same toxin which causes botulism – as a cosmetic treatment.

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He was responding to Mr. Durkan, who asked, if he had any plans to legislate for the introduction of a regulatory framework on who can perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the north.

"My Department’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG) carried out an enforcement and compliance programme into the provision of Botox over a six month period. Initial investigations and assessments have been conducted into over 200 individual providers of Botulinum Toxin Type A.

"Shortcomings in prescribing processes and breaches of advertising legislation have been identified. Those in breach of legislation have been issued formal advice and warning notices where appropriate and have moved into legal compliance in the vast majority of cases investigated. In addition, formal referrals have been made to professional bodies, e.g. General Medical Council (GMC) where appropriate. The MRG continues to monitor the situation,” said Mr. Swann.

The minister said he was ‘aware of the changing health and social care environment, notably around cosmetic treatments, and has carried out a fundamental review of health and social care regulatory framework’.

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He told the SDLP MLA that his department is currently reviewing its policy in this area and that he would like updated regulations to be taken forward within the current mandate of the Stormont Assembly.

"My officials have developed a new draft regulatory policy that includes the principles of regulation, along with the broad scope of services to be regulated and the proposal that the regulator should have wider powers of enforcement etc.

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"This work has been the first phase of the process before moving on to phase 2. As part of my Department’s response to the pandemic the launch of the consultation on phase 1 was delayed,” he stated.

"Before a draft policy is consulted upon it will be subject to further review taking into account any additional lessons from the pandemic and any other regulatory and quality issues that have emerged over the past few years.

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“It is my intention that a Review of Regulation will be taken forward during the current mandate of the Assembly. This Review of Regulation will also include an assessment of current standards in order to consider whether any further assurances are required,” said Mr. Swann.

According to the NHS Botox (Botulinum toxin) injections relax the muscles in a patient’s face and smooth out lines and wrinkles, such as crows’ feet and frown lines.

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The treatment is not permanent and lasts between three and four months.

Injections can vary from about £100 to £350 for each treatment, depending on the clinic and the area being treated. It is not available via the NHS for cosmetic purposes.