The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has continually raised this issue in meetings with the federal and state and territory governments, as well as in written communication, submissions and through the media. 

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited training programs for the various surgery subspecialty fields, as well as ophthalmology and obstetrics and gynaecology are five or six years at a minimum, on top of a primary medical degree. 

In September, RACS met with the Commonwealth Minister for Health & Aged Care to discuss restricting the title surgeon, as well as other issues relevant to the regulation of cosmetic surgery.
RACS President Dr Sally Langley said the decision was a welcome one and would add an important layer of safety when it comes to patients choosing a surgeon. 

“Restricting who can use ‘surgeon’ will help prevent patients from undergoing surgery under a false assumption about the standard of training of the person carrying out the surgery. It will also help maintain public confidence in the high standards of our health system.  

“We are also pleased to see that legislation will now establish powers to prosecute or take disciplinary action against persons who unlawfully take or use a protected title in relation to surgery or claim that they or another person hold a type of registration or endorsement in cosmetic surgery that they do not. 

“A primary medical degree and five or six years of training in a specialty which includes a significant surgical component provides the physiological, ethical, psychological, pharmacological and medical expertise to safely diagnose, treat and manage surgical patients. This includes knowing the medical conditions that preclude surgery, awareness of associated conditions that will influence surgical management choices, managing appropriate referrals for complex care and performing all aspects of postoperative care including correcting complications,” added Dr Langley.

Earlier in the year, RACS made two submissions to a consultation looking at the question of titling restrictions. The first submission was a standalone one, while the second was a ‘co-badged’ statement with Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, (RANZCOG), and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO). 
RACS has also been working with Fellows and specialty societies advocating on the issues associated with cosmetic surgery through direct engagement with government, regulatory bodies and the media.

Health Ministers have also announced approval of funding for a national public education campaign about the risks associated with cosmetic surgery and how to identify quality service providers, a plan also in line with a RACS recommendation.

Health ministers meeting communique.