The aesthetics sector is rich with acronyms and jargon that sometimes even the most fluent of practitioners can struggle with. This is particularly relevant as the sector moves towards regulatory change that will overhaul many of the ways some practitioners operate, and simultaneously introduces a whole new lexicon for the sector to grapple with.
“I work within the aesthetics sector and I know that there will soon be changes to some of the rules and laws that govern the way we work, but I don’t understand all the jargon – what does it all mean?” This is something that I have been hearing more and more lately as practitioners start to read and hear more about the government-led regulatory change that will soon be introduced to the aesthetics sector. While this major new legislation is extremely welcome and much needed, change can cause confusion.
With this in mind, I aim to break down some of the jargon, acronyms and phrases associated with the new legislation, that many within our industry could find confusing.
HEALTH & CARE ACT 2022
The Health and Care Act 2022 contains the biggest reforms to the NHS in nearly a decade, laying the foundations to improve health outcomes by joining up NHS, social care and public health services at a local level and tackling growing health inequalities. It received royal assent on April 28, 2022, meaning it becomes an official Act of Parliament.
The act contains a huge number of complex provisions relating to all aspects of the health and care sector; however, there is a particular strand that relates directly to the aesthetics sector. It will enable the health secretary to roll out comprehensive new legislation to regulate a sector that, until now, has operated largely free from legal oversight.
As yet, we don’t have full details of how the new act will directly affect the aesthetics sector; however, it’s likely the legislation will cover everything, from health and safety, targeting under-18s across all forms of media, as well as placing strict regulations on how cosmetic procedures are represented on social media.
Vitally, the newly introduced licensing scheme will likely establish mandatory education levels for practitioners... but more on this later.
The legislation is designed to make practitioners far more accountable to their patients, as well as making the sector as a whole significantly more transparent, bringing it more in line with other highly regulated medical sectors.
JOINT COUNCIL FOR COSMETIC PRACTITIONERS (JCCP) / COSMETIC PRACTICE STANDARDS AUTHORITY (CPSA)
The JCCP is the body that registers practitioners and approved education and training providers with the key remit of ensuring patient safety. They set standards and competency frameworks for the industry in collaboration with the Cosmetic Practice Standards Authority (CPSA). The two organisations work very closely together.
The CPSA is an expert group of specialists with patient/public representation, committed to safeguarding people who undergo nonsurgical cosmetic treatment (such as fillers, skin rejuvenation, lasers and botulinum toxin injections) and hair restoration surgery. They set the standards that anyone who wishes to perform these treatments must meet, whatever professional background they are from.
When the new legislation is rolled out, it is anticipated that the JCCP will likely be the delivery partner for the new national licensing scheme that all practitioners will need to adhere to.
NATIONAL LICENSING SCHEME
It is expected that a major element of the new legislation will be a national licensing scheme. At present, there are several voluntary registers of accredited practitioners and approved education and training providers. However, these are not mandatory to join, which means that many unaccredited practitioners are providing inadequate and often dangerous services, which are a major threat to patient safety – the driving force behind the new legislation.
Vitally, the newly introduced licensing scheme will likely establish mandatory education levels for practitioners, for example, a Level 7 postgraduate certificate in aesthetic medicine. It is also expected to introduce a legal requirement for practitioners to register and be licensed to practice non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
LEVEL 7 QUALIFICATION
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are eight different levels of education – as well as an entry level. Level 7 refers to a level of education equivalent to a Master’s degree, and is the second highest level of education that can be attained. In all sectors, Level 7 qualifications are highly sought after by employers, as they demonstrate significant skills and knowledge, as well as a dedication to the industry you are looking to work in.
There are several Level 7 options available to practitioners, via in-person and online learning providers, including the Cosmetic Medicine MSc at Learna (for which I am the programme lead), as well as an array of postgraduate diplomas from providers across the UK.
FAST TRACK ASSESSMENT (FTA)
Practitioners will likely fall into three camps when the new mandatory Level 7 legislation rolls out:
1) Those who already hold Level 7 qualifications and can continue as usual, as long as they are signed up to the national licensing scheme
2) Those who do not hold a Level 7 qualification, but who have many years of experience delivering high-quality treatments in line with the sector’s best-practice guidelines
3) Those who do not hold a Level 7 qualification, and deliver substandard and often dangerous treatments, with complete disregard for the sector’s best practice guidelines
It is the latter two categories that the new legislation seeks to address, to upskill and professionalise the second category, and remove the third group from the sector entirely.
However, for many practitioners who fall within category 2, the idea of undertaking a time-consuming and costly Level 7 qualification may seem daunting, or indeed impossible.
With this category of practitioner in mind, the JCCP Fast Track Assessment (FTA) has been developed in collaboration with Learna.
The Learna/JCCP FTA is specifically designed for aesthetic practitioners looking to register with the JCCP who don’t already hold a Level 7 postgraduate qualification. It offers an alternative to more costly and time-consuming qualifications for practitioners who do not have the time or resources to gain postgraduate medical qualifications, but who already have considerable experience and skills within the sector.
OBJECTIVE STRUCTURED CLINICAL EXAM (OSCE)
The FTA consists of two separate components: a three-hour theoretical examination and an Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE). An OSCE is a standard method of evaluating medical students as it allows a student to practice and demonstrate clinical skills in a standardised medical scenario while being observed for evaluation.
The OSCE can be completed in approved test centres across the UK, whereas Learna is the only approved educational provider to deliver the three-hour theoretical exam.
At present, within the aesthetics sector, the term ‘accredited practitioner’ doesn’t mean a huge amount as there are few legal guidelines, or an official body or register, for patients and clients to refer to, to understand where to go for high-quality and safe treatments.
However, when the new Health & Care Act 2022 regulations about the aesthetics sector are rolled out, we’ll likely see the implementation of an official national licensing scheme where it will be a legal requirement for practitioners, with a Level 7 qualification, to register to be licensed to practice non-surgical cosmetic procedures, thereby becoming an accredited practitioner.
The transparency this will bring to the sector will mark a substantial change in the way it operates, clearly demarcating between highly trained professional practitioners who operate within strict legal boundaries, and those who do not.
For more information on the Learna/JCCP Fast Track Assessment (FTA), visit https://www.learna.ac.uk/courses/jccp.
DR ANA CRISTINA DINIZ SILVA
Dr Ana Cristina Diniz Silva is the programme leader for the MSc in Cosmetic Medicine at online education provider Learna. Dr Silva has years of experience as a cosmetic practitioner, providing treatments including botulinum toxin injections, non-surgical lifting with threads, hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxyapatite fillers, and fractional laser treatment.