Lawyers say more needs to be done to protect cosmetic surgery consumers

15th Aug 2018

More needs to be done to ensure the satisfaction and safety of cosmetic surgery consumers and to help them seek redress when something goes wrong, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“Greater regulation, more information available about providers and better access to redress would all benefit the increasing number of people selecting to undertake cosmetic procedures,” said Ngaire Watson, barrister and medical law spokesperson for the ALA. Ms Watson recently presented these views to the NSW Parliamentary Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) and she appeared in an ABC TV Four Corners special this week on the issue.

The ALA believes that expanding the powers of the HCCC will help patients make more informed decisions about which facilities and doctors they choose for their procedure.

“We recommend that the HCCC should be allowed to publish a public warning about a specific health facility or an individual doctor so that consumers can make more informed decisions,” said Ms Watson.  “For consumers looking to select a cosmetic health service provider, it is only fair that they can research and be made aware of facilities or practitioners who have been the subject of serious or frequent consumer complaints.”

The ALA is also recommending the law is amended so that it is mandatory to provide consumers with a referral for a counselling session with a clinical psychologist prior to major surgical procedures.

“This counselling would help address unrealistic expectations and ensure that consumers are well informed about likely outcomes,” said Ms Watson.

The ALA also recommends making further amendments to the law so that consumers are more able to claim for financial redress when they have been harmed by cosmetic health providers.

“This would be valuable for the individual but would also act as a financial disincentive for non-compliant cosmetic health providers to continue practicing in an illegal or an unauthorised manner,” said Ms Watson.