In the process of putting together the second edition of my book, Never Accept a Lift from Strangers, it is all about providing information and education so that people can ensure that they are treated by a fully trained practitioner.
I think we have a duty to impart this information, because the law does not protect you when it comes to having surgery from an untrained practitioner, and so the onus is on you to do your research to make sure that your practitioner is fully trained.
I have found that there is not clear information out there for people to tell whether they are being treated by a fully trained practitioner, and so when they read stories about patients who have come to harm and subsequently found out that their so-called plastic surgeon, was not a plastic surgeon at all, I am not surprised that patients themselves are often alarmed and dismayed because they were under the impression that it was a plastic surgeon.
One interesting point is around the term ‘junior doctor’.
The public is familiar with the term junior doctor and I think most people would associate it with a younger doctor or surgeon, but this is not necessarily the case.
The term junior doctor refers to a doctor who is not fully trained.
In the medical world you become a senior doctor when you have finished your training.
This can either be as a GP or as a hospital consultant, and until you have reached that level you are termed a ‘junior doctor’.
Depending on what field you tend to specialise in, it can take a long time to train and so there are ‘junior doctors’ out there well into their thirties, and even forties, and there are a huge number of doctors who never even finish their training and reach the level of an NHS consultant and so if they went to work in the NHS they would always be termed ‘a junior doctor’.
There are a couple of ways to tell whether your practitioner is a senior doctor.
First of all if they hold, or have held, an NHS consultant post, then you can be assured that they have finished their training.
You can also tell by the letters after their name.
Many people are impressed by letters, FRCS stands for a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, but only when you have finished specialist training do you become a senior doctor, and then you will have the letters with a specialty in brackets after the FRCS, for instance, FRCS (PLAST) for a plastic surgeon, FRCS (GEN) for a general surgeon, FRCS (ORTH) for orthopaedic surgery, and so on.
If your surgeon does not have the speciality in brackets or just has ENG (which stands for England) after the FRCS, then they only have a basic FRCS qualification and would be considered a junior doctor if they were to work in the NHS.
The problem is that when it comes to hierarchy there is a very strict level within the NHS and you have to work through certain posts and pass exams in order to finally achieve the level of consultant.
However, this hierarchy does not exist in the private sector and doctors can leave the NHS training scheme at any point and set up in private practice before they have finished their training.
There is a high profile case with Dr Leah Totton who won The Apprentice a few years ago when she was a junior doctor in training, and subsequently she set up a chain of cosmetic clinics and has not gone back to finish her training and so remains a junior doctor and yet is perceived to be a specialist.
Unfortunately, cosmetic surgery is full of junior doctors who have not finished their training and go into the private sector and hide behind glossy advertising and marketing which covers up their lack of qualifications.
Cosmetic surgery should not be treated any differently to any other surgical procedure, and you must do your research and make sure that your doctor is a fully training surgeon with the appropriate experience and qualifications.
Do not be blinded by a biography that talks about the ‘extensive experience’, or a classy website, or convincing sales person.
Take a look at the qualification and ask whether they hold or have held an NHS consultant post and if so, in what specialty.
If you are talking to a fully trained surgeon they should be happy to talk about their experience, and if you experience resistance or reluctance to answer your questions, then I would worry.
If you are concerned you can check whether your doctor is on a specialist register by looking at the GMC website where you can search for their name or GMC number.
Caveat Emptor “ let the buyer beware.
Good luck with your search and let me know if you need any information. You can get a copy of my book here.
Don’t forget that I do a live Q and A on Facebook every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Please go over to our Facebook page if you would like to put a question directly to me.
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