Thousands of people undergoing laser treatment could be left with burns and scars as a result of government plans to end inspections of clinics, the Department of Health has admitted.
Up to 3,400 more patients could be harmed by cosmetic procedures to remove a mole, tattoo or unwanted hair, according to a consultation paper on the move drawn up by Whitehall officials themselves. The change, which critics claim will allow cowboy operators to open premises that have poor safety standards because they would no longer need to apply for a licence, comes into effect on 1 October.
A two-page appendix to the paper, headed 'Deregulation of lasers and lights - possible effect on the number of adverse incidents', said that harmful outcomes may double. It reads: 'Laser and light treatments ... are potentially harmful and they will generate adverse incidents ... Deregulation would generate an extra 1,700-3,400 adverse incidents per year.' There are already an estimated 3,400 each year.'It's shocking that the government is prepared to countenance thousands more people being injured as a result of this deregulation - and it's an astonishing thing to admit,' said David Gault, a consultant plastic surgeon who specialises in laser treatments. 'While some of these "adverse incidents" involve only minor scarring or pigmentation, people's sight can also be damaged by a powerful laser being shone into their eyes. The psychological harm from these things happening is, in my view, harsher than the physical damage people suffer,' added Gault, the British Associ