AHPRA confirms national law will now protect the title ‘surgeon’, as senators remain ‘deeply concerned’ at medical regulator’s lack of clarity
Patients win after decades-long fight to protect the title of ‘surgeon’ under the national law, while questions about AHRPA’s competency remain
Australia, 10 November 2022: ASAPS has won its decades-long battle to protect the title of ‘surgeon’ under the national law, as confirmed by AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher during today’s Senate Estimates hearing.
During questioning, AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher revealed the decision to protect the title ‘surgeon’, referencing how “health ministers collectively have agreed to protect the title surgeon… so that will become a protected title in the national law.”
The decision puts a historic end to the systemic butchering of patients by cosmetic cowboys referring to themselves as surgeons. The use of the highly deceptive title of ‘cosmetic surgeon’ has enabled a dangerous free for all that finally ends today.
ASAPS president, Dr Timothy Edwards said: “Health ministers have finally recognised the significant danger around misuse of the title cosmetic surgeon. This move to protect the title of surgeon is common sense. You should not be able to perform invasive surgery if you are not a surgeon who has completed the Australian standard of surgical training that all surgeons must adhere to.
“ASAPS are thrilled that patients are finally having their safety put first. It should have always been this way.
“What contradicts today’s great achievements is AHPRA’s decision to push forward with a new inferior endorsement model that could see those who have misused the title of ‘surgeon’ grandfathered into a system created to allow them to perform surgery, despite those practitioners refusing to complete Australia’s surgical training requirements.
“Rather than regulate health practitioners according to the nation’s existing high surgical standards, the regulator is creating new lesser standards to accommodate practitioners who want to bypass surgical training to perform invasive surgeries. This will put future Australian patients in great danger, yet again.”
During today’s hearing, Fletcher referenced the regulator’s plans for a new endorsement model that could see medical practitioners without the correct surgical training to continue performing cosmetic surgery under a newly manufactured title.
Under AHRPA’s proposed arrangement, medical practitioners will be permitted to advertise themselves as having an ‘endorsement’ for cosmetic surgery, even if they haven’t completed the correct training required to become a registered surgeon.
Commenting on the hypocrisy of AHPRA’s proposed endorsement model, Edwards said: “AHPRA’s proposed new inferior endorsement model would see those who have misused the title of ‘surgeon’, grandfathered into a system created to allow them to perform surgery, despite those practitioners refusing to complete Australia’s surgical training requirements. To us, this is going backwards.
“If you restrict the use of the term ‘surgeon’ to FRACS surgeons, and then endorse non-FRACS surgeons to perform cosmetic surgery, then either you were wrong to restrict the title or wrong to provide the endorsement. The two are mutually exclusive and you cannot have both.
“Do we seriously think that AHPRA would propose an endorsement process to allow poorly trained practitioners perform heart transplant surgery? So why should cosmetic surgery be any less safe?
“The restriction of the title ‘surgeon’ will go a long way to protect the public, but we cannot ignore the fact that the cowboys could no doubt use AHPRA’s proposed loophole to continue behaving like a surgeon without Australian Medical Council-accredited surgical training.”
At today’s Senate Estimates hearing, Senator Anne Ruston said she remains “deeply concerned” and requested that AHPRA attend future senate hearings (today was the first time they have ever fronted Senate Estimates), to share updates on the rollout of this very serious matter.
“I think that Australians would be very concerned at the lack of clarity you have been able to provide here today, that cosmetic cowboys will be off the market,” she said.
“I think that you have only served [to make me think] that there is going to be an ongoing process of being able to short-cut one’s way to a qualification that will enable them to cut up someone’s face.”
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ASAPS note to editors: The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) is the peak body for plastic surgeons in Australia and New Zealand, whose focus is aesthetic plastic surgery. ASAPS membership is exclusively composed of registered specialist plastic surgeons with world-class expertise in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic medicine.
ASAPS members are registered as specialists in plastic surgery by the medical councils of Australia and New Zealand, having undergone the foremost levels of Australian Medical Council-accredited training through RACS. All ASAPS members are fellows of RACS and are highly qualified and trained to perform world-class cosmetic surgery procedures.
ASAPS’ have led a campaign called ‘Know The Difference’ since October 2020: the campaign urges the public to know the difference between those who falsely claim to be registered surgeons by using the fabricated title of cosmetic surgeon, and the only practitioners who are appropriately qualified to be performing cosmetic surgery and registered as specialists in plastic surgery.
ASAPS Website: https://aestheticplasticsurgeons.org.au/
For more information or media enquiries, contact: Phoebe Netto [email protected] or 0401-036-610