Consultation opens for review into cosmetic doctors


By Michael Woodhead

7 Mar 2022

Health practitioners and the public are being asked to submit feedback on the current situation of doctors who perform cosmetic surgery, as part of an independent review by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The review, being conducted by former Queensland Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown, in conjunction with the Medical Board of Australia, is looking at patient safety issues in the cosmetic surgery sector, including how to strengthen risk-based regulation of practitioners in the industry.

“The Independent Reviewer is particularly interested in understanding whether there are any barriers to consumers, practitioners or their employees raising concerns about unsafe practice or unsatisfactory outcomes,” AHPRA said in a statement released on 4 March.

“They are also examining how best AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia should manage concerns when they are raised. What information consumers should be given about their procedures and other factors that may influence informed decision-making is also a focus.”

The review “will ensure AHPRA and the National Boards’ regulatory approach keeps pace with rapid changes in the cosmetic surgery industry [and] will make recommendations to AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia about actions that will better protect the public,” the regulator said.

The scope of the review covers ‘cosmetic surgery’ such as breast implants, abdominoplasty, rhinoplasty, surgical face lifts and liposuction, but it does not include non-surgical treatments such as cosmetic injectables (Botox and fillers).

The review only focuses only on registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic surgery in Australia and not other health practitioners like nurses and dentists).

Consumer submissions can be made via an online survey, which focuses on sources of referral and information about cosmetic surgery, or via email: for approximately six weeks.

Practitioners, professional organisations and agencies are encouraged to email their responses to the questions in the consultation paper.

The Independent Reviewer will then make recommendations to AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia. That report is expected mid-2022.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the outcome will help inform how the regulator can better protect the public.

“The cosmetic surgery sector is growing and we want to ensure that patient safety comes first. While we are just one part of a system of checks and balances, we recognise we play a significant role alongside other regulators. We are always open to ways we can do better,’ Mr Fletcher said.

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