As I have been searching for inspiration for this issue’s editorial, there is really only one thing on my mind at the moment. Those of you who have interacted with me on Facebook and Twitter recently will be aware of the latest aesthetic medicine ‘scandal’ to hit the UK: The Apprentice.
Similar to the version aired in the US, 16 big business hopefuls undertake a series of money-making tasks to impress Lord Alan Sugar in the hope that they will become his ‘Apprentice’ and receive a £250 000 ($ 382 075) investment for their business idea. This year’s final saw one contestant present a cupcake business, and the other, a potential ‘Botox empire’.
All well and good in theory, other than the fact that the winner of the competition— with her plans for a new chain of cosmetic surgeries — Dr Leah Totton, is reportedly only a newly‑qualified doctor with only minimum training in aesthetic medicine. The fact that her aim with her business idea is to raise standards within the UK cosmetic/aesthetic industry is, frankly, beyond me; exactly what experience and standards does she hope to bring with only basic training? She hasn’t even been qualified long enough to undertake the role of a general practitioner (GP) without full supervision.
I believe that it is highly irresponsible of Lord Sugar to invest in this ‘business’ idea, precisely because he himself is a businessman and not a doctor, let alone an aesthetic practitioner. In fact, his investment has further belittled the industry at a time when we are striving for the highest of standards in the face of what Sir Bruce Keogh calls a ‘crisis waiting to happen’. (Sir Keogh is NHS England’s Medical Director, who was this year tasked to review the cosmetic surgery industry, and recommended better regulation and better training as a result.)
In fact, Dr Tamara Griffiths, dermatology representative on the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), which has been developing EU-wide standards for cosmetic surgery, is quoted by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) as saying: ‘Dr Totton is a very junior doctor and her claim to be an expert in the field of cosmetic procedures may not measure up to the review by the European Committee for Standardisation, where international consensus has been reached regarding the imperative of adequate and accredited training.’
Sitting on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean, we often read about stories of cement mixture injected as buttock implants and procedures carried out with no anaesthetic in motels in the United States, and think to ourselves ‘only in America’. In the case of The Apprentice, however, I highly doubt that a television series focusing on business investment would crown a cosmetic surgery empire as its winner; and certainly not one which trivialises the industry when those already working within it are striving for the highest possible standards. Correct me if I’m wrong.