SCOTLAND is heading for a health disaster similar to the PIP breast implants scandal because government regulations introduced last year are failing to protect patients from botched cosmetic procedures performed by unqualified practitioners, industry experts have warned.

It comes as new figures reveal that insurance claims from people left disfigured by procedures that went wrong rose 37 per cent between 2014 and 2016, from 187 to 256.

The biggest number of claims is from patients who received laser surgery, including hair and tattoo removal and resurfacing treatments, followed by derma fillers and Botox.

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Those performing complex and often dangerous surgical procedures include hairdressers, beauticians, pharmacists and even plumbers and an air steward, it is claimed.

Leading industry experts and practitioners will gather for a seminar in Glasgow later this month where issues of regulation and standards will be discussed.

Dr Cormac Convery, a member of the Aesthetic Complications Expert Group, said measures introduced by the Scottish Government in 2016 and overseen by Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) are inadequate and have failed to stop “unscrupulous activities and dangerous techniques being undertaken by the poorly trained”.

Dr Convery, medical director of the Bloomfield Clinic in West Kilbride, said: “There’s an air steward in my area who performs injections in his spare time and there have even been stories of plumbers performing procedures. Anyone who chooses to can put up a sign and say ‘I am an expert injector’ even if they have no qualifications.

"Unfortunately, the most recent attempt at regulation in Scotland is rather like going fishing with the wrong bait."

Since last year, independent clinics in Scotland have had to be licensed for an annual fee of £1,990. Clinics are also subject to regular inspection visits and consumers can complain about to the relevant professional body.

However the measures apply only to qualified healthcare professionals already covered by industry bodies such as the General Medical Council (GMC).

Taimur Shoaib, a lead trainer for Inspired Cosmetic Training, a Glasgow-based practice, said the industry was “a disaster waiting to happen” because of the profusion of unqualified practitioners.

Botox injections, chemical peels and laser hair removal can legally be performed by anyone but, done incorrectly can cause burning, scarring, infection and even blindness.

Mr Shoaib said: “The most serious complications can cause necrosis, or skin death, around the eyes and lips, that requires reconstructive surgery.”

“These fillers are essentially sugars which can block blood vessels and they need to be injected by a qualified person in a medical clinic in a clean and sterile environment.

“It’s ridiculous that the Scottish Government is allowing unregistered, unregulated and unqualified people to slip through this loophole. It’s a disaster waiting to happen in the same way that the Pip breast implant scandal was.”

The Scottish Government is now progressing work to gather data on the number of clinics offering botox injections and dermal fillers, and which are run by non-healthcare professionals.

Our aim is to ensure that these clinics, such as beauty salons, are regulated and meet similar standards to those in place for clinics run by medical staff.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We expect the highest professional standards from all those working in cosmetic surgical procedures. Informed consent should always be obtained and full information provided.

“Cosmetic and plastic surgery carried out by medical staff is already regulated and regularly reviewed. We intend to regulate procedures carried out by non-healthcare professionals, for example at beauty salons, and are consulting with the profession and regulatory bodies on how this can be done.”