CPD Accredited - Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance’s annual survey 2020

In a year of unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’, and untold disruption to not only the aesthetics industry but the world as a whole, it was more important than ever to get practitioners’ views on this tumultuous year, and how they have been impacted. Every year, Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance produces an annual survey seeking industry insight from the practitioners who know it best. And this year, despite many changes in other areas of life, was no exception.

Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance has seen plenty of change within the sector since it began 25 years ago. Over this time, we have strived to provide a tailored service to our members, with specialist advice, guidance and support, no matter the stage of the lifecycle that practitioners are at. Year on year our annual survey helps us to identify ongoing and upcoming trends and industry changes, and find out how practitioners have adapted, as well as providing us with a useful reference point to map industry milestones as we experience them.

This year practitioners completed several surveys throughout the year, as well as our annual 2020 survey, as we looked to understand how practitioners were adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surveys included:

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the aesthetics industry?

How are aesthetic practitioners adjusting to working in the NHS?

Update: The impact of COVID-19 on practitioners two months on

From lockdown to local restrictions – how are practitioners coping with the continued impact of COVID-19?

After what has been understandably a period of great adaptation for practitioners, we asked a series of questions ranging from industry motivations, most common treatments, changes to their practice and business planning, as well as how they have managed claims and complications throughout the year.

Mark Copsey, Associate Director for Hamilton Fraser’s Healthcare division comments,

“We are incredibly grateful to the 681 practitioners who took the time to provide their thoughts and insights on the sector this year. This is a fantastic response rate, up 45% from 2019. Your feedback is vital for appreciating the complexities of running an aesthetics businesses, especially during the current climate, and helps us to better understand the challenges, and also celebrate the successes of practitioners within the aesthetics sector.

The insights we gain from our surveys help us to ensure that the service and cover you receive is tailored to your needs and provides expert support in an ever-changing environment. The responses we gathered from all our surveys last year showed a strong and resilient sector that is able to adapt and overcome the challenges that have come its way. We look forward to the reopening of clinics following the third national lockdown on the 12 April and wish all practitioners a happy, safe and productive year ahead.”

How do you practise?

Most aesthetic practitioners surveyed (38.18 per cent) reported practising from their own clinic, 26.73 per cent from a clinic within their home and 16.89 per cent from a clinic that they don’t own. It is incredibly important that any practitioners working from a clinic within their home seek comprehensive insurance cover to protect their business and livelihood, as well as ensuring that their current home insurance policy covers home working in this capacity. It is also recommended that practitioners take out a suitable medical malpractice policy.

Only 14.68 per cent practise as mobile practitioners, however it will be interesting to assess any potential changes to this figure over the coming year as the COVID-19 lockdown eases and practitioners ‘return to work’. For example, in an attempt to recoup losses suffered over the last year a mobile business may appeal more to practitioners, and be more viable in the current climate. This is due to lower overheads, running costs and greater flexibility associated with mobile working. Read more about how to operate as a successful mobile practitioner.

In addition, 77.97 per cent of practitioners reported operating part-time within aesthetics. This is unsurprising when considered in conjunction with previous surveys conducted throughout the year as practitioners returned to the NHS to support the pandemic response.

 

Treatments provided

Much like the results found in 2019’s annual survey, as answered by 616 practitioners in 2020, botulinum toxin (94.48 per cent) and dermal fillers (89.77 per cent) were once again listed as the two most popular treatments provided by practitioners. This was followed by:

  • Skin care (50.49 per cent)
  • Chemical peels (49.03 per cent)
  • Mesotherapy (28.57 per cent)

For the second year in a row, practitioners also reported that treatments for ageing (83.44 per cent), preventative ageing (60.39 per cent) and skin care solutions (such as acne, pigmentation and rosacea) (31.01 per cent) as the three most common treatment procedures requested by patients.

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Body dysmorphia in aesthetics

It is widely recognised that higher rates of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) are observed amongst people seeking aesthetic interventions. For the safety of both the patient and the practitioner, it is important to recognise patients with symptoms of BDD and how practitioners can support their patients to avoid exacerbating symptoms. Find out more in Body Dysmorphic Disorder in aesthetics: the role of the practitioner.

Assessing a patient’s mental health and wellbeing is an integral part of a practitioner’s consenting and treatment process. We therefore asked practitioners if they had any patient(s) that have presented with any symptoms of body dysmorphia over the past year. Practitioners reported that the most common symptoms of BDD identified within their clinics were:

  • Worrying about a specific area of the body (48.54 per cent)
  • Comparing their looks to others (32.14 per cent)
  • Looking in mirrors a lot or avoiding mirrors altogether (26.95 per cent)

31.66 per cent of practitioners reported recording no symptoms of BDD.

Of those who had identified a patient with BDD, we asked if that had changed their approach to their treatment or procedure in an open-ended question (as answered by 533 respondents). Most practitioners revealed they had made changes to their approach including:

Practitioner one –

Yes. A much more detailed consultation process undertaken. Patient already under care in regards to their mental health within GP services and mental health team. At that time I listened and acted more as a therapist in a way. Unfortunately, I advised the client they could not at this time have the specific treatment they wanted as I didn’t feel it was in the patient’s best interest and the patient was more likely to become even more obsessive over their appearance.

Practitioner two –

Yes, I refer them to their GP to seek support for the anxiety/preoccupation they feel. Where a treatment was justified, as in objectively I could see their area of concern could be dealt with I have set very clear objectives and boundaries with patient at outset, to ensure they understand that they can’t keep chasing an outcome.

Practitioner three –

Yes – [I am] very quick to spot it, as an advanced nurse practitioner I am aware of mental health and how to recognise signs. I still practise around 10 hours a week in the NHS on a locum basis and feel it’s important to set goals, be realistic with treatment plans and to recognise early when someone has signs of BDD. One common element I see is patients trying to book treatments such as dermal fillers more frequently than the proposed/agreed treatment plan. It’s a challenge admittedly but I am firm if needed to prevent patients developing attachment or seeking treatments that aren’t necessary or beneficial. I’m hyper aware of professionalism and also being perceived of taking advantage of such patients. There’s a fine line between being asked to help improve an area of concern and being led by the patient or being ‘told’ what they need. I try to gently bring them back to see it as a medical consultation and that if it was, for example a hospital or GP appointment, the patient wouldn’t ‘suggest’ or ‘demand’ the treatment. I feel after 10 years I am highly specialised and can create an effective treatment plan and I truly believe less is more, even though from a business model perspective this means less revenue. However, I find it appalling that some ‘professionals’ talk patients into having work that either won’t help, isn’t right for them or looks too ‘done’ and I often get patients coming to me for corrections or patients who have been treated by me, gone somewhere cheaper and come back as they realised ‘you get what you pay for’. I feel we have a duty to recognise BDD and be alert to symptoms as they can be subtle and have a professional responsibility to manage expectations and never perform unnecessary treatments.

Read more about what you should do if you believe that a patient may have Body Dysmorphic Disorder here.

Reassuringly (as answered by 616 respondents), over 90 per cent of practitioners reported routinely looking out for patients displaying any mental health problems through a number of different methods including:

Practitioner four –

Yes, through the use of following a medical model in consultation and throughout treatment and aftercare. Asking questions at consultation such as if they have ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition or if they feel depressed etc. Asking about current medications regarding mental health and any services they may be involved with.

Practitioner five –

Psychological assessment is paramount in every patient. During the initial consultations, the actual skin damage present and the patient’s perception of its extent is what guides the physician to what treatment, if any, is appropriate.

Practitioner six –

Yes, they complete questionnaires which opens a discussion about how much a problem worries them. I studied psychiatric nursing and use open ended questions. Consultation is an hour with time for discussion.

Of those who reported that they did not routinely look out for patients displaying mental health conditions practitioners commented:

Practitioner seven –

No, as too big an area to get involved in. I want patients who are straightforward and do not blame me or the product if treatment does not meet their expectation.

Practitioner eight

I’m not really qualified to make these assumptions.

Practitioner nine –

No not really, not had many clients, and all clients have procedures maybe once before or never. I know how to look out for signs of mental health issues through my training.

As a practitioner it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your patients both physically and mentally. If you feel that a procedure would be of detriment to the patient or not achieve the desired outcome, then you should not be afraid to say no, however difficult this may seem. It is far safer to refuse a treatment if you do not feel that it will be appropriate or identify any ‘red flags’.

Emma Bracchi, Senior Claims Technician at Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance shares her best practice advice for knowing when to say no to patients.

If you do not feel qualified to make an assessment of a patient’s mental health and wellbeing you should seek advice from their GP before undertaking any procedure, and ensure you carry out a full and documented consenting process before the treatment commences. Find out more in our comprehensive consenting and consultations guide.

Clinic technology

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased online working and our reliance on digital and technological aids. This is no exception in the aesthetics market, with a number of practitioners looking to diversify the way that they manage patient records to future proof their business, improve organisation and remain compliant. The time and effort involved with keeping on top of the growing admin created by physical patient records provides a compelling argument for effective clinic management.

As answered by 598 respondents, 63.04 per cent of practitioners reported that they manage patient records via paper files, a further 24.75 per cent have gone paperless via systems and 23.41 per cent paperless via an app.

Find out more about why becoming a paperless practitioner may be a good move for your business.

Practitioners were also asked the types of technology being used within their clinics. 71.57 per cent reported using other technologies than those listed (including 3D imaging, AI technology and skin diagnostics). This included camera for photography and Clever Clinic. A large proportion of practitioners also reported that they did not currently use technology in their clinics.

This was followed by technology being used for skin diagnosis (14.05 per cent) and AI technology, such as light control, in their clinics (10.37 per cent).

 

The changing nature of the sector – COVID-19

The impact of COVID-19 on aesthetic practitioners and their businesses has been unlike anything faced by the sector before. The disruption and uncertainty felt at the start of the pandemic has now however been largely replaced by hope and the determination to return to some sense of normality in the not-so-distant future. Throughout the pandemic, practitioners across the country have made the selfless decision to return to the NHS. In some cases this has impacted the way that practitioners operate their aesthetics businesses, and increased diversification across their usual methods and processes.

As answered by 490 practitioners, 83.88 per cent reported a change in their consultation process as a result of COVID-19, with 55.10 per cent also reporting a change in their aftercare process.

Practitioners commented that in relation to their consultation process:

Practitioner 10 –

[The] clinic door is kept locked and entrance only gained by a bell. Sanitation station on entrance, clients asked to cleanse hands & wear mask, staff wearing PPE and full clean between clients, temperature taken. Receptionist asks clients if they have any symptoms or have been in contact with any possible cases.

Practitioner 11 –

All clients are sent a message 24 hours before their appointment to ask if they and their household are COVID free and not been asked to self isolate. Temperatures are taken upon arrival. COVID questionnaire is given.

Practitioner 12 –

My basic consultation and hygiene practices have not changed as I have always followed strict hygiene in my clinic and before, during and after all procedures. The difference now is the COVID form that patients fill out in addition to regular medical history and consent. I also follow all the guidelines advised by the regulatory bodies for ‘COVID protocol.’

Practitioner 13 –

Telephone assessment is carried out to assess the need for treatment. At the consultation advice is given on deferring treatment if deemed necessary. I have significantly reduced the number of patients that I see. PPE is donned and a questionnaire is filled out in respect of COVID risk and treatment only provided if necessary.

In relation to patient aftercare practitioners reported:

Practitioner 14 –

[I am] unable to do face to face follow ups as [we] went into lockdown. [The] use of Zoom and FaceTime has helped with this.

Practitioner 15 –

Face to face has been difficult. We have had conference call with video and photographs or reviews and regular contact.

Practitioner 16 –

Patients are less likely to come for review if they are generally happy with their outcome. We may also need to evaluate whether COVID vaccinations could interact with fillers.

Practitioner 17 –

I haven’t been able to follow up people properly so I’ve been ringing them, text/WhatsApp and checking on them, making notes on what has not been quite right for first time botox for example, so I can alter next time and asking for photos to be sent to me.

Practitioner 18 –

I always keep the same high standards, although with restrictions placed quickly some follow ups have had to be online.

Practitioner 19 –

My patients are always offered an aftercare service. How this is done either via message or in person is decided on an individual basis.

Practitioners were also asked how they maintain a professional long term relationship connection with their patients. Practitioners reported several different ways including:

Practitioner 20 –

Social Media, IG, FB, Emails and SMS

Practitioner 21 –

We take time to really listen to all our clients’ requirements. We educate them on products and processes. We give them time to think before embarking on their aesthetic journey. We say no and fully explain why. We are reasonably priced. Our staff regularly attend training. We genuinely care and want all our clients to feel better.

Practitioner 22 –

Being available. Thorough consultation process. Well thought out and appropriate treatment recommendations. Individualised treatment plan. Regular reviews and support. No hard sell.

Practitioner 23 –

Open and honest. Contact via e-mail for offers and treatment reminders.

Practitioner 24 –

I contact them to see how treatments are. I post on social media and they enquire. I send follow up messages every two, five, seven and 14 days post treatments.

Practitioner 25 –

Through social media, contacting them if their regular treatment is due. Offering a valuable service from the start in which they feel they can trust me and develop a quality professional relationship.

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The importance of business planning

In 2019, 66 per cent of practitioners reported wanting to find out more information on the importance of business planning. Business planning may seem like a daunting process, however if 2020 has taught us anything it is the need to suitably plan for any unforeseen hurdles, to secure the longevity of your business.

In our 2020 survey (as answered by 490), 66.33 per cent of practitioners said that they did not have a business plan in place. Of those practitioners that did have one in place we asked if their business plan for 2021 differs from that of 2020 in an open-ended question. A large proportion of practitioners commented that their business plan had not differed for the new year, however practitioners also provided some interesting insight into how to ‘bounce back’ once they were able to operate once again. Comments included:

Practitioner 26 –

Yes, mobile practice planned for 2021, moving area was the driver for this.

Practitioner 27 –

Yes, courses that should have been completed have not. But this has simply been delayed and the plan will continue.

Practitioner 28 –

I don’t have a business plan. It’s an ongoing development whereby I work to improve all my current systems and procedures I offer.

Practitioner 29 –

Absolutely. We’ve taken some ‘time out’ to review policy, processes and how we will manage patients given the changing challenges with new variants of coronavirus, vaccinations, and balancing this with patient wellbeing, mental health and clinical need. Therefore, our business income will be significantly less in 2021 as it was in 2020 compared to 2019. We are looking at innovation in how we can still offer services such as direct to patient skin care and are exploring how we can implement the next stage of our business plan which has always been training of other qualified clinicians. This is clearly more challenging in the current pandemic than before it happened.

For more information on how to create an aesthetics business plan, including what to consider and where to begin, read our guide here.

With a new year full of new opportunities, we asked practitioners what their objectives are for their practice in 2021. Practitioners shared several goals and objectives, especially surrounding the safe re-opening of their clinics and treatment of patients.

Practitioners commented:

Practitioner 30 –

To maintain a safe environment in line with guidelines from government, CQC and NMC. To offer services that can be done safely with minimal intervention. Continue with FaceTime and paperless consultation and consent. Update mandatory training and input monthly monitoring/audit of COVID-19. Keep patients informed and allow for their feedback.

Practitioner 31 –

To raise awareness about online/virtual consultations. More marketing on ‘at home care’ and to help provide information so once we are able to get hands on again people feel informed. We have a new logistics partner too to help provide seamless service. Many of the projects we had ready to roll out in 2021 have been paused, but not cancelled. Training and awareness projects will go ahead virtually instead of face to face. Try to adjust & extend hours to help recover lost revenues. Online staff training whilst in lockdown too!

Practitioner 32 –

Re-establish practice in the safest, highest standard of practice. Invest in further measures to protect patients and myself and my co-director, innovate to continue to provide patients with some solutions to common issues such as skin care, again looking at how we can still implement training despite the pandemic. We are more determined than ever to make it work and in a way the pandemic has probably made many clinicians ‘up their game’ from the perspective of higher standards of clinical care. I also believe the extended ‘ban’ on nonmedical staff such as beauty therapists performing injectable facial treatments is correct and we will use this as part of our ongoing strategy to educate patients on how aesthetics should be performed and to what standard, which can only improve practice across the industry.

You can also find out more about specific business planning as we emerge from pandemic here, as well as how to future-proof your business.

 

Marketing your services

Competition within the aesthetics industry, despite the ongoing pandemic, is showing no signs of slowing. In fact, in some cases demand may actually be increasing. As a result, aesthetic practitioners face significant competition and need to find new and engaging ways to marketing their products and services to potential patients. Marketing your services can help to showcase your unique selling points (USPs) and help practitioners to stand out from the competition. Find out more about key marketing considerations in our bespoke guide for aesthetic practitioners.

With marketing being such an important part of securing new patients, and retaining them, we asked practitioners what methods they used to market their services to prospective patients.

The aesthetics sector has long used social media as a platform to highlight and showcase its work, relying on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to provide real life examples from real life patients. It is therefore unsurprising that 80.20 per cent of practitioners surveyed (as answered by 490 respondents) used social media marketing to boost their clinic and procedural presence.

Practitioners should however be aware of the ethical implications and regulations surrounding marketing aesthetic procedures on social media. Social media has been identified as a significant accelerator in the rising popularity for cosmetic procedures and so it is vitally important that any practitioners using this method of marketing do so in a socially responsible, ethical and legal way. Find out more in ‘Ethical marketing and social media for aesthetic practitioners’.

A large proportion of practitioners also reported using email marketing (31.22 per cent) and 26.53 per cent cited other methods such as word of mouth, their website and Google reviews.

There are a wide variety of digital marketing quick wins and considerations. As a practitioner you may also want to consider new ideas such as running a seasonal marketing campaign surrounding annual events such as Valentine’s day and New Year to help your business stand out from the crowd. Find out more about digital marketing methods for aesthetic practitioners.

Finding prospective patients is one thing, but retaining customers is an entirely different ball game. When asked, practitioners reported that loyalty points, VIP packages, offers and discounts were key methods used to keep their clients coming back.

Practitioner 33 –

Good patient care, helping them to make informed choices about their treatments, keeping them up to date on new treatments, skin care and wellness.

Read more about the importance of good practitioner/patient relations and how to incorporate patient wellness services in your practice.

Practitioner 34 –

Invite them back, make them feel special and show great interest in what they want. Also use my professional qualifications.

Practitioner 35 –

By listening to my patient’s feedback including anything which they want me to improve on or add in.

Some practitioners did however note that they felt this was an area of potential weakness that they could work on over the coming year.

Practitioner 36 –

I am poor at this as I wait for them to contact me.

As answered by 490 practitioners, 77.76 per cent were aware of who their primary competitors were in the industry, a useful step in also helping to gain, and retain, patients long term.

What challenges are practitioners facing?

After a year of great upheaval, we asked practitioners to list the greatest challenges they face as a practitioner within aesthetics. Results mirrored those found in 2019, with practitioners listing increased competition, marketing and newly emerging products and technology as the three biggest challenges faced. In 2020,

  1. 90 per cent of practitioners cited increased competition as one of the greatest challenges they faced. This is unsurprising in a fast paced and ever-expanding market, and one in which new treatments, wants, needs and methods are being pioneered. Similarly, it appears that the pandemic has not curbed enthusiasm for cosmetic procedures, caused in some part by phenomena such as the zoom effect. Competition between practitioners is therefore still high and something that weighs greatly on the minds of practitioners
  2. 55 per cent of practitioners cited marketing as one of their greatest challenges
  3. 57 per cent also noted that keeping up to date with the latest products and technology is a challenge. With rising demand for new technologies, including artificial intelligence in aesthetics, it is unsurprising that practitioners are looking to the future and ‘new normal’ in the sector.

What do practitioners want to know more about?

In a changing world with emerging technologies and increased competition, amongst other challenges, it is only natural for practitioners to want to expand their understanding and secure training and knowledge that can be used as a USP. Practitioners are also required to continue their professional development, also known as continuing professional development (CPD), something that can be achieved through many different methods such as self-guided learning, seminars and events. You can read more about CPD to get the most out of your aesthetic training, including the different types of CPD, here.

To gauge topics of interest to practitioners in 2020, we asked practitioners ‘if you were to attend a seminar (online), what would you like to hear about?’. As answered by 490 practitioners the most popular seminar topics included:

  • 04 per cent of practitioners wanted to know more about the latest treatment trends
  • 55 per cent of practitioners wanted to know more information about aesthetics training and CPD
  • 65 per cent of practitioners were interested in knowing more about sustainable treatments. An area that is fast growing in the aesthetics sector and especially relevant in a world that is becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability and the environmental impact of procedures.

Whilst in person training and learning opportunities may be on hold for now, there are still plenty of ways for practitioners to get involved with training within the aesthetics sector, including webinars and other online events.

The Aesthetic Business Conference (ABC) 2021, brought to you by Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance, will be a hybrid event this year on 21 June 2021 offering both physical and online tickets to the aesthetics event of the year. ABC offers practitioners the chance to find out more about the many facets of running an aesthetics business. From marketing in the aesthetics industry to using technology to enhance clinic experience. The event also offers great networking opportunities with likeminded practitioners, a host of expert speakers imparting their industry knowledge. Find out more about ABC 2021, and expand your business knowledge to help boost your business, here.

 

Procedural complications and complaints in 2020

Treatment complications

No practitioner wants to face a procedural complication, however despite best intentions, practice and meticulous procedures, complications and complaints unfortunately can occur.

We asked practitioners if they had experienced any procedural complications when carrying out treatments in 2020. As answered by 485 practitioners, a significant 84.54 per cent of practitioners had not experienced any procedural complications in 2020. As answered by 72 practitioners, 58.33 per cent reported minor complications (expected and self-limiting) and 44.44 per cent moderate complications (patient distressed but the matter resolved). Only 6.94 per cent were serious enough to require further medical intervention.

87.50 per cent of practitioners were able to manage the complication themselves, most commonly through reassurance, without any further medical intervention (62.50 per cent), or active treatment of the complication (43.06 per cent). 19.44 per cent of practitioners informed the product manufacturer and insurer when a complication arose.

Complaints

Complaints can arise for several reasons. It could be because of a complication the patient has experienced, or due to a patient’s dissatisfaction with the outcome of a treatment. When a patient makes a complaint, practitioners might take it personally or react defensively. Understanding how to effectively handle a patient dissatisfaction or complaint is incredibly important to solve the matter professionally, and can in some instances avoid its escalation.

73.13 per cent of practitioners (as answered by 480 respondents) were aware of the required steps needed when dealing with a claim or complaint, and 71.46 already had a complaints procedure in place. An effective complaints procedure can help to manage a potential claim from the outset, including helping practitioners to identify the difference between a notable and reportable claim, as well as how to address them.

It is important that practitioners notify their insurer as soon as possible in the event of a potential claim or dissatisfaction, even if they believe that it is unlikely to escalate. Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance offers support and guidance for policyholders on how to best resolve issues, without it impacting on their insurance premium. Read more about the importance of notifying your insurer of a potential claim here.

Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, and the impact this had on clinic closures, the number of procedures undertaken by practitioners this year has undoubtedly influenced the number of claims and dissatisfactions made. On the surface, complaints received by Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance in 2020, do appear to be down on 2019 figures however, it will interesting to see if this figure changes over the coming year as clinics begin to re-open.

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Aesthetics associations and independent bodies

There are several associations and independent bodies in the aesthetic sector committed to supporting practitioners and helping to improve patient safety within the industry. Of those surveyed in 2019, over half did not belong to an aesthetic association and just under half were also not part of an independent body.

In 2020, 52 per cent of practitioners (as answered by 475 respondents) reported that they were not a member of any associations (such as BACN, BCAM, BAAPS, UKAPPS etc). Similarly, 45.26 per cent were also not a member of an independent body such as AAIC, JCCP, Save Face, or the CSA), 42.95 per cent did however report being a member of the ACE Group.

Being part of an aesthetics association has many advantages. This includes helping you to stand out in a competitive market as a practitioner that values best practice within the sector. Associations and bodies also offer a wide range of training, information and resources to help support you as a practitioner.

Becoming a member of an independent aesthetics body, such as the JCCP, also has numerous benefits for practitioners, including highlighting your commitment to achieving public health, safety and wellbeing. A professional membership also demonstrates to potential patients and other practitioners that the membership organisation has confidence in your professional standards, level of qualification(s) and experience.

Due to shared concerns surrounding limited regulation and consistency in training and qualification requirements in the aesthetics sector, Hamilton Fraser and the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) have recently partnered to offer new and renewing policy holders, a free JCCP membership to help increase and sustain standards within the industry. Find out more here.

 

The future of the aesthetics sector

What is the future of the aesthetics sector? This is a question that weighs heavily on the minds of practitioners, with 67.55 per cent (as answered by 490 respondents) interested in greater educational content on the future of sector. This topic is of particular interest due to the rapidly changing nature of the sector as well as external factors impacting aesthetics such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked, 95.37 per cent of practitioners (475 respondents) reported that they want to see the industry regulated, something which has been debated frequently within the sector. Small milestones have been achieved on the route to greater regulation, such as the Department of Health and Social Care’s launch of the ‘Clued up on cosmetic procedures’ campaign in 2019, and increased patient safety protocols to reduce risk such as the introduction of European Regulations (EU 2017/745) in 2020 making all dermal fillers regulated as medical devices.

Practitioners who wished to see industry regulation commented:

Practitioner 37 –

There are so many people practising aesthetics, without the relevant qualifications. There are also a lot of people selling products without prescription for very cheap on social media which needs regulating. Quite a scary thought, not knowing what some practitioners are injecting into patients.

 Practitioner 38 –

Yes, it is in Scotland and should be all over the United Kingdom. It is a procedure like any other and we are dealing with patients’ lives at the end of the day so should be regulated.

Practitioner 39 –

It helps the industry become more professional, gives the public confidence that medical professionals who have undergone training and keep up to date with CPD etc will be treating them, allows us as the aestheticians to feel that we are protected properly too.

Practitioner 40 –

Yes, more regulation is needed to ensure those practising are competent, to prevent avoidable complications and ensure that those treating understand how to treat any complications should they arise. I do not think non-medical practitioners should be able to carry out injectable treatments and therefore regulation is needed to stop this from happening.

Practitioner 41 –

To safeguard the public – it is a “free for all” at the moment and it is dangerous, the public have no idea of the risks associated with untrained lay people or people from a beauty background who cannot know what they don’t know. Aesthetic medicine is a medical and nursing speciality, not something that unregulated individuals should be allowed to practise.

Practitioner 42 –

Absolutely – regulation would hopefully standardise the level of treatment that patients receive (and ultimately improve care). I feel this will improve public perception of the industry too which will ultimately increase the market.

Of those who did not wish to see the industry regulated many commented on worries that regulators would use it as a “way to make money” and would prefer not to have to pay large sums “to practise”. Although there was general acknowledgement that regulation is still needed, and the industry would be safer for it.

Practitioner 43 –

No because although I would like the industry to be safer, I know that the regulators will use it as a way to make money.

Practitioner 44 –

As an example, nurses and doctors don’t always make the best treatment and results providers. There should just be a level of training that must be completed for example repeating training.

 Practitioner 45 –

Even though I think it is needed I don’t want to have to pay £1000s to practise, like Scotland have to.

However, in a post-COVID world it is not unrealistic to expect greater safeguards for patients and practitioners, as well as methods, potential regulation and recourse to ensure that practitioners practise in a safe and secure manner. This will help to assure and enforce consistent and sustained industry standards.

 

Survey summary

Practitioners shared significant insights into their past year in the aesthetics sector, none of which will not be forgotten in a hurry. The information gathered from this survey is vital for understanding and responding to the needs of a modern practitioner. Results will help to ensure that Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance is able to offer the tailored support and guidance required by practitioners.

Despite a great level of insight being gathered from practitioners in 2020, what is however far less clear is the long term COVID-19 legacy that will be felt within aesthetics and how this will impact treatments, patients and businesses as the world re-opens.

On 12 April, cosmetic clinics will be able to re-open to the public to offer once again a whole host of cosmetic treatments. It is impossible at this stage to accurately predict what this will mean for the aesthetics sector, however early indications point to a resilient sector that is willing to bounce back. As one comment from a practitioner in our COVID-19 survey in March 2020 suggests, “make a plan for restart, aim to hit the ground running” we can finally see a light on the horizon.

 

 

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