HC Deb 11 November 1980 vol 992 cc177-8
9. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussions he has had with the British Medical Association about ways of controlling private cosmetic surgery clinics.

Sir George Young

None, Sir. When section 16 of the Health Services Act 1980 comes into force these clinics will need to register with the local health authority under the Nursing Homes Act 1975. The registering authority is concerned with the standards of facilities and staffing. The clinical practices of doctors and professional ethics are matters for the medical profession.

Mrs. Short

Is the Minister aware that that is a very disappointing reply to a question relating to an increasingly serious problem? Is he aware that the BMA now receives complaints about these cowboy clinics more or less every week, that the clinics are allowed to advertise—which is doubtful clinical ethics—and that they are wreaking damage on the women and, indeed, the men who patronise them? Does he not think that they should be brought under control, as other private clinics are?

Sir G. Young

If the hon. Lady has any evidence of professional misconduct she should bring that to the notice of the General Medical Council. As she rightly says, the BMA is concerned about this matter and is seeing whether it can introduce some more effective guidelines for doctors. Any member of the public contemplating the use of such clinics should contact his general practitioner and take advice before going to any clinic.

Mr. Pavitt

In view of the BMA's concern, will the Under-Secretary hold two Departmental inquiries? First, will he have an inquiry into the way in which the provision of consultants in plastic surgery is being diminished merely because of the possibility of their doing two jobs, one in a private clinic and one in the NHS, so that a number of senior registrars are not getting promotion? Secondly, will he hold an inquiry into the drain of skilled theatre nurses from the NHS to the new clinics and private hospitals, which art taking away from the NHS the important speciality of qualified, theatre-trained nurses?

Sir G. Young

The hon. Gentleman's question goes slightly further than the matter of cosmetic surgery. I shall look into the two matters that he has raised. Cosmetic surgery is available under the NHS in certain conditions.