Four Corners cosmetic surgery investigation

26 Oct 2021

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), the Medical Board of Australia and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, expect all registered health practitioners to practise in a safe and professional manner and we will act if we establish that they pose a risk to the public. 

We are deeply concerned about information presented in last night’s Four Corners investigation into cosmetic surgery. We are urgently reviewing the material now available.

We would also like to clarify a few points about our role in regulating this area.

The title ‘cosmetic surgeon’ is not a protected title under the National Law. This means that we cannot legally prevent the use of the title. We do not have the power to change the law. That is a matter for Health Ministers, who have agreed to consult on changing the National Law to protect the title ‘surgeon’, including ‘cosmetic surgeon’ and we welcome that consultation. 

If you think a registered health practitioner may pose a risk to the public, we want to know about it. Mandatory reporting obligations also apply to registered health practitioners and employers. You can call 1300 419 495 or lodge a notification online via the Ahpra website.

We are legally unable to comment on investigations underway.

Background:

In our work to keep patients and consumers of cosmetic procedures safe, we:

  • investigate notifications about health practitioners undertaking cosmetic procedures and take regulatory action if a practitioner’s conduct or performance is below the standard reasonably expected (given there is no registration category for cosmetic surgeons we do not specifically count how many notifications are made about cosmetic surgeon)
  • publish guidance for medical practitioners, nurses and dental practitioners who may perform cosmetic procedures to support safe and professional practice and act when we think they pose a risk to the public
  • prosecute individuals or companies for holding themselves, or another person, out as registered health practitioners authorised to provide cosmetic medical procedures when they are not 
  • prosecute unlawful advertising including advertising a cosmetic service that is false, misleading or deceptive, and 
  • provide information to support consumers make safer choices before undertaking a cosmetic procedure. 

 Some of the questions we suggest consumers think about are:

  • Who is involved in performing the procedure or surgery?
  • Where is the procedure or surgery taking place? Is it clean? Is it safe? Does it meet state or territory licensing requirements?
  • What medicines, medical devices or other health products are being used?
  • Has the practitioner provided you with enough information to make an informed decision?
  • Do you know where to go if something goes wrong?

Concerns about practitioners in NSW and Queensland

There is co-regulation in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (Qld). In NSW, this means that concerns about practitioners in NSW are managed by the Health Care Complaints Commission and the relevant health professional council and not by Ahpra and the National Board.  In Qld, the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) manages concerns about practitioners, retains the most serious matters and may refer other matters to Ahpra and a National Board.

Regulation of premises and drugs and poisons

We don’t regulate or inspect premises. Where relevant, we do work and share information with the state and territory jurisdictions that regulate private facilities such as day procedure centres. Each state and territory has drugs and poisons (or equivalent) legislation for schedule 4 (prescription only) medicines. For example, requirements relating to permits, supply, storage and transport.

Contact us

• For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200. 
• To lodge a notification You can call 1300 419 495 or lodge a notification online via the Ahpra website.
 
 
 
Page reviewed 26/10/2021