My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. It is the NHS that has to pick up the bill for these problems, but it is not the NHS that will always pay for cosmetic surgery to fix them, so young people can be left with lifelong scars as a result of their surgeries, so he raises an excellent point.
The worst of it is that these risks are not theoretical or rare. I stress that this is an unregulated area, so instances of severe complications are not formally documented. However, thanks to brilliant campaigns by many Members of this House, the campaigning organisation, Save Face, and investigations carried out in the media, horrific stories have come to light. There were more than 1,600 complaints to Save Face last year, and it is estimated that 200 people have gone blind following these treatments, but it is the cases of the under-18s that have really stuck with me.
It is worth dwelling on a specific case study, which is representative of the countless stories I have heard. An under-18 female, who I will not name, booked a lip filler treatment after seeing a social media post promoting a discount. When she arrived at the clinic, she applied numbing cream herself to her lips. She was not asked her name. She was not asked details of her medical history. She was not even told what product was being used. She was not told of any possible side-effects. She was not consulted.
The treatment itself took less than 10 minutes. On completion, she was hurried out to pay the final balance. A few days later, she was experiencing significant pain and loss of sensation on the left side of her face. She contacted the person who treated her. She was ignored. Her symptoms became worse. She contacted her GP. She was told she should go and see another practitioner. When she eventually found a reputable local aesthetic healthcare professional, she reviewed her lips and concluded that the filler was compromising the blood flow to the tissue. She nearly lost her lips. This is an under-18 girl who nearly lost her lips through a procedure freely advertised and legally administered with no warnings or regulation whatever. Sadly, that example is not rare enough.
At the opening session of the all-party parliamentary group on beauty, aesthetics and wellbeing’s inquiry into the sector, Rachel Knappier appeared. She suffered from a botched filler, injected by a practitioner without any medical training, which resulted in her needing critical care. She told the APPG that there is
“nowhere for these people to turn to” when things go wrong. She continued:
“Cheap adverts on social platforms are encouraging young impressionable people to seek an instant change to their appearance…to seek what is portrayed as the image of perfection.”
I could expound at length on the historical lack of oversight on women’s health issues. From PIP breast implants to vaginal mesh, we have simply not seen enough focus on these important issues by Governments over decades. This is a private Member’s Bill, however, and is necessarily limited in scope. I am pleased that the current Minister for Patient Safety, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and her predecessor, my hon. Friend Jackie Doyle-Price, have started to change the trend.