It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but filling out all the paperwork properly is essential to avoid running into legal problems later on. One of the primary requirements when opening an aesthetic clinic in the UK is to register with relevant regulatory bodies. The primary regulatory body for aesthetic clinics in the UK is the Care Quality Commission (CQC). First, you need to fulfil the 5 CQC Standards: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led, consisting of CQC Key Lines of Enquiry (KOLE).
What exactly does CQC take care of?
Simple: it ensures that your clinic is safe for patients. The CQC is responsible for ensuring that all healthcare providers in the UK meet certain standards of care and safety, also clinics providing aesthetic treatments. They are the minimum requirements clinics need to fulfil, providing aesthetics services in the UK: person-centred care, dignity and respect, consent, safety, safeguarding against abuse, premises and equipment and many more.
How can you register with the CQC?
To register with the CQC, you will need to provide evidence of compliance with various regulations.
The CQC offers different types of registration depending on your clinic's services. For aesthetic clinics, the most appropriate type of registration is the 'Independent Healthcare Service' registration. This registration type is for clinics that provide medical treatments on a non-residential basis.
1. Prepare your application: This will involve providing detailed information about your clinic, including its location, the treatments it offers, and the qualifications and experience of its staff. The application can be submitted online.
2. Pay the registration fee: There is a fee to register with the CQC, which varies depending on the size and complexity of your clinic. You can find out the exact fee by contacting the CQC or visiting their website.
3. Wait for your registration to be approved: This can take several weeks or even months, depending on the complexity of your application and the workload of the CQC.
4. Prepare for your inspection: Once your registration has been approved, the CQC will schedule an inspection of your clinic to ensure that it meets the required standards of care and safety. You will need to prepare for this inspection by ensuring that your clinic is clean, well-maintained and that all staff members are properly trained and qualified.
In addition to the CQC, you may also need to register with other regulatory bodies, depending on the treatments that you offer. For example, if you offer laser treatments, you may need to register with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), also have a beauty qualification NVQ3 or the VTCT level 4 laser and IPL certificate. Similarly, if you offer injectables, you will need to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) respectively.
In addition, practitioners are encouraged to register with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), a form of a guideline registering a wide range of practitioners from different backgrounds with varying levels of experience and training or qualifications. The council makes sure that all required and specific regulations are met. It manages many problems within the sector. In order to register and be JCCP qualified, you will need to go through a few stages: part A full and provisional (with categories 1 and 2 completed), part B full and provisional and then FCCP-approved qualification.
2. Training and qualification
Another key requirement for starting an aesthetic clinic in the UK is ensuring that all staff members are adequately trained and qualified to perform the treatments that you offer. This includes both clinical and non-clinical staff. All staff members who perform clinical treatments (doctors, practitioners, dentists, nurses, etc.) must be registered with the appropriate regulatory body, such as GMC, DMC, GPhC or NMC. They all help clinics to get necessary licences, to help regulate them and to advise clinics on how to operate according to the best practice and ethics. Moreover, practitioners need to be licensed, especially if they perform treatments involving injections, and have at least level 4 qualifications. Of course, to become fully licensed, level 7 is mandatory.
In addition to registration, staff members must also undergo regular training to ensure that they remain up-to-date with the latest techniques and best practices. This may involve attending courses or seminars, as well as participating in ongoing professional development.
3. Premises and equipment
When opening an aesthetic clinic in the UK, you must also ensure that your premises and equipment meet certain standards. This includes ensuring that the premises are safe and suitable for the treatments that you offer and that all equipment is well-maintained and up-to-date. Also, preferred clinic location is a very important matter to look at: shopfront, within a shopping mall, with car parking, disabled access, second entrance. Remember that everything making your clinic easily accessible is for your benefit only.
You will also need to ensure that you have appropriate insurance coverage in place, including public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. These types of insurance protect you and your business against any claims made by clients who may have suffered injury or harm as a result of the treatments that you have provided.
4. Marketing and advertising
Finally, when opening an aesthetic clinic in the UK, it is important to ensure that your marketing and advertising materials comply with relevant regulations. This includes ensuring that all claims made about your treatments are truthful and accurate, and that any before-and-after images used are representative of typical results.
You must also ensure that any marketing or advertising materials do not target vulnerable groups or make unrealistic promises about the effectiveness of your treatments. In addition, all advertising must comply with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulations.
Opening an aesthetic clinic in the UK requires careful consideration of a range of legal and regulatory requirements. By ensuring that you meet these requirements, you can create a safe and effective environment for your clients while protecting your business and reputation.
5. Cannot forget about
Except for the basic steps, like getting relevant qualifications, finding premises, establishing the list of treatments, prices and advertising strategies, you should also remember about:
1. Choosing the most convenient booking software – there is a wide range of them, providing the best service and helping you to organise not only appointments, new and recurring, but also manage your calendar and remind you about the booking. The most popular ones are Pabau, Aesthetic Nurse Software, Timely, Ovatu, Fresha or Phorest.
2. Attending various conferences that provide networking opportunities to meet people from the industry, to make connections, find products and medical devices that can be used, upgraded or introduced.
3. Updating your knowledge by attending training and courses, in order to learn more advanced procedures and be up-to-date with current trends.
4. Selecting a good front house manager that will very much contribute to the success of your clinic.
5. Being always there for patients, but maintaining the work-life balance, which keeps you motivated to provide your patients with the best possible care.