The Royal Society for Public Health launch new qualifications to democratise the accessibility of regulated qualifications in aesthetic medicine

This ground-breaking new model will ensure that all suitable practitioners have access to regulated qualifications that verify their competency to deliver safe aesthetic treatments.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is an independent health education charity, dedicated to protecting and promoting the public’s health and wellbeing. It is the world’s longest-established public health body with The Queen as its patron.

The RSPH have joined forces with the newly established QCCP to fill a much-needed void that currently exists within the education and training landscape for medical aesthetic professionals. For the first time, practitioners will be able to benchmark their knowledge and skills against an essential curriculum framework and gain a recognised certificate of competency. Each qualification is regulated and awarded by the RSPH, providing an unrivalled level of credibility and prestige to practitioners and training providers who wish to take and deliver the exams.

For experienced practitioners, the qualifications offer a direct route to validate competency and the free online self-assessment enables those on their journey to competency to identify learning needs and access relevant training from a list of RSPH approved training centres.

The first two qualifications to be launched are;

  • Medical Aesthetics Certificate: Understanding the Safe Use of Botulinum Toxin in Cosmetic Procedures
  • Medical Aesthetics Certificate: Understanding the Safe Use of Dermal Fillers in Cosmetic Procedures


Aesthetics, as a medical discipline, lacks both a regulated educational framework for the practitioner, and mandatory educational standards for training providers. Given the lack of standards and mandatory curriculum, practitioners are unable to identify learning needs, in order that these may be addressed.

We believe this is a major contributing factor for complications associated with non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

The OFQUAL regulated Level 7 and the university MScs have only been taken by a very small minority. Since 2017, approximately 2000 have registered, and invested significant funds to undertake the Level 7 qualification. Unfortunately, less than 10% have progressed to pass the examination and gain the qualification. *FOI Request- REF Senior Officer Compliance, Ofqual  3/11/2020. (Since the first certificates were awarded for this qualification in Q4 2017, 175 certificates have been issued) (rounded to the nearest 5). 

It might be assumed that the associated costs and the necessary commitment of time present barriers to many, but the inability to successfully complete these programs begs a pause and further scrutiny.

As a relatively new medical specialty, we need a suitable, valid and recognised foundation qualification for all clinicians. This can, in time, act as a stepping-stone for those who wish to progress to a Level 7 or MSc qualification.

Training is a significant investment and those seeking to practice in aesthetic medicine are vulnerable to providers who fail to deliver a standard of training that enables safe and competent practice. Clinician feedback regularly highlights inadequacies, inconsistencies and holes in curricula content and delivery. The lack of essential curriculum standards and collaborative approach have prevented the average clinician from gaining a recognised core knowledge and associated certification.

Clinicians wanting to enter this field of practice face an impossible task; they don’t know what they don’t know. They need an accessible standard curriculum from which to establish and map their learning needs, allowing confidence in selecting a suitable training provider.

The New Qualifications Council

The Qualifications Council for Cosmetic Procedures (QCCP) was formed to review the current training landscape, examine the fundamental flaws and challenges, and use a blank page to design a framework for new fit for purpose qualifications.

A competency framework was the starting point, with an essential curriculum referencing the competency framework. Our on-line examinations assess knowledge and understanding of safe practice fundamentals using a validated format.

The QCCP also recognised the importance of an awarding body independent of the QCCP who could provide external scrutiny, quality assurance and regulation. This same independence was considered key in the approval of training providers wishing to prepare learners to sit the examinations.

We look forward to working with training providers and are excited to facilitate in the enablement of learning progression.

The benefits of the Medical Aesthetic Certificate (MAC) for Clinicians

In these new qualifications, experienced practitioners who have already invested considerable funds and many years of training and CPD, can choose to access the examinations directly. Consolidating their evidence of learning over time, they may sit the exam to test their knowledge currently. The free online self-assessment enables practitioners to benchmark their knowledge against the curriculum and identify areas of learning they may need to refresh and can choose to do so with self-directed learning in their own time.

Clinicians embarking on their learning journey can use the competency framework to map their knowledge and learning needs and plan their training and CPD activities with reference to it. Then take this examination either via their RSPH training provider or register independently.

Unlike other certificates or qualifications, the RSPH MAC specifically focuses on knowledge-based competencies which should prove very helpful to support revalidation. As the knowledge base evolves over time, like revalidation, the qualification expires every three years to promote revision and updating knowledge in-line with professional standards.

We are launching with two treatment modalities which are recognised as fundamentals in any non-surgical cosmetic practice. It is the intention of The QCCP to facilitate the development of MAC Certificates in additional treatment modalities and to develop practical assessments to compliment.

This ground-breaking model removes the time and monetary barriers that have discouraged practitioners from undertaking the university and level 7 awards. The first two, stand alone, examinations are available now and cost just £200 + VAT each.

Opportunity and flexibility for training providers

It is expected that responsible training providers will innovate and rethink training materials to follow or map against the essential curriculum and become an RSPH approved training centre.

RSPH approved training providers can be expected to teach the essential curriculum and submit their learners for the RSPH MAC qualification. It is expected that flexible training modules can accommodate different learning needs.

Approved training providers will be required to submit a minimum number of learners annually. This requirement will help to facilitate monitoring of experience and success in teaching the curriculum. It will further prevent exploitation of approved centre status as a marketing tool without genuine commitment to the curriculum and learner outcomes. Pass marks as a percentage of those submitted for the qualification by approved training centres will be published.

It is hoped that the sector, regulators, practitioners, training providers and the public will welcome and embrace this initiative to promote a standard in competency-based training. We have the opportunity to end the regrettably, sometimes unscrupulous, exploitation of the unregulated training environment, which has led to the continued proliferation of ill prepared clinicians, lacking competence promoting unsafe practice.

Training providers can apply to the RSPH to become an approved centre now, applications cost just £450 with an annual renewal fee of £125.

Benefits to The Public

The RSPH is the world’s oldest public health body, it is a well-known and esteemed authority with The Queen as its patron. The combined reach of Save Face, The QCCP, and the RSPH, will ensure that the public are educated about the value of this distinctive qualification in helping them to identify practitioners who are regulated healthcare professionals, qualified and competent to manage their entire treatment journey and look after them if something goes wrong.

The MAC is accessible to GMC, NMC, GDC, GPhC regulated healthcare professionals with a license to prescribe.

A decision has been taken to launch this process with the initial exclusion of non-prescribers. This is on the basis that all non-prescribers should be supported by and associated with a competent (in non-surgical cosmetic procedures) prescriber and work on a shared care and shared accountability basis. This association is in the best interests of patient safety.

Duncan Stephenson, Deputy Chief Executive of RSPH, said:

These types of procedures can go wrong if performed by individuals without the requisite knowledge, understanding and competence and can cause irreversible damage to the client’s physical appearance and mental health. We are pleased to have partnered with the QCCP in developing this qualification, to both support healthcare professionals who administer these treatments and provide reassurance to the public, so that we can deal with many of the issues which Save Face see quite frequently.

Gillian Murray, Lead Member of Council at QCCP, said:

“We are excited to be working with The Royal Society for Public Health in bringing a suite of RSPH-regulated qualifications together for the cosmetic procedure industry. Current levels of education and training are not standardised across the UK among aesthetic practitioners. This gives rise to different practice standards and allows misleading claims of competence.

“The qualifications produced by the QCCP will give the practitioner a curriculum to work to and provide assurances that training providers are teaching to produce competent practitioners. Having a certificate endorsed by RSPH will help to underline and establish the medical model of practice, allowing the practitioner to have confidence in their level of training.”

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