While the federal government announced the recommencement of some elective surgeries from April 27, there is a lot of confusion for aesthetic medical practitioners. Can they reopen their doors and treat their patients? If so, from when – and what procedures should be allowed to go ahead?
Like most industries across Australia, aesthetic medical practitioners are looking for some certainty regarding reopening their businesses, safely and within their states’ health guidelines.
But given the changing nature of the effects of Covid-19, coupled with various state restrictions, along with the intimate nature of most aesthetic procedures, there is little wonder there has been confusion.
To help clarify the situation, the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD), the Cosmetic Physicians of College of Australasia (CPCA) and the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) released statements to their members to try to achieve some certainty for their members (see attached).
Basing much of their direction to their members on the gains Australia has made suppressing the virus, along with the newly acquired PPE supplies that are now available. These factors were complemented by the recent easing of restrictions on elective procedures nation-wide, with some industry bodies recommending the recommencement of elective cosmetic medical procedures.
However, the statements from the CPCA, ACD and ASAPS only added to the confusion with some industry stakeholders questioning whether the industry bodies even have the legal authority to direct their members. This was further argued, given the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s (AHPPC) stated when it announced the recommencement of elective surgery that “Cosmetic or other procedures not addressing significant medical conditions must not be included.”
The end result is some clinics have re-opened, some larger clinics are planning a staged, staggered reopening of their clinics from mid to late May, while other practitioners are holding off from re-opening altogether, until the relevant government authorities actively encourage the reopening of cosmetic clinics.
At this stage there is no easy answer or clear advice. Uncertainty is not restricted to aesthetic medical practitioners. This global pandemic has upended most of society, with very few industries or workers left untouched. While individual practitioners and operators will have to make their own decisions, it is advised that practitioners follow the guidelines of their industry bodies at the very least, while also weighing the advice from the relevant state and federal government bodies.
These times call for unprecedented cooperation. No industry or practitioner wants to be the cause of any more suffering or harm. Australia has been a world leader in successfully responding to the challenges presented by this global pandemic. This achievement should serve as a source of pride for the entire nation. We should also recognise that our relatively excellent outcome thus far has been due to all Australians acting responsibly with the realisation – that we are all in this together.