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END THE BEAUTY OP CON ON NHS; Call to end surgery that costs millions.

Byline: By MARK SMITH

COSMETIC surgery carried out on the NHS is costing Scots taxpayers millions of pounds a year, new figures revealed yesterday.

In the past five years, thousands of women have had breast enlargements, tummy-tucks and nose jobs - paid for out of public funds.

Surgery to pin back ears and penis enlargement operations have also been carried out on the NHS.

Medical experts are concerned the NHS is being used as part of the latest beauty fashion trend. Demand for private surgery, fuelled by cosmetically-enhanced celebrities such as glamour model Jordan, is booming.

Consultant psychologist Eileen Bradbury, who assesses patients before they undergo cosmetic surgery, says some people will go to any lengths to get the operations they want.

She said: "People do make up stories to get treatment. It's not difficult to create some tale about how you can't cope because your breasts are too small.

"A shortage of psychologists means the decision is left to GPs, who may refer them because they're so insistent."

Plastic surgeons in Scotland have now drawn up new guidelines aimed at limiting nonessential NHS operations.

Last year, 2,500 women had plastic surgery at NHS hospitals - most were to repair breast-cancer surgery but there were also many cosmetic breast reconstructions and other procedures.

The bill in Glasgow NHS hospitals, where most of the operations were carried out, was pounds 17million.

John McGregor, a consultant at St John's Hospital in Livingston, said: "Although the guidelines will allow plastic surgery where a psychologist believes it might improve someone's quality of life, we will not accept someone who wants a facelift or breast augmentation when their features are normal."

In 2005, Lothian Health Board spent pounds 10.8million on cosmetic surgery and Grampian pounds 4.7million.

More than 20,000 people in the UK had plastic surgery last year. Figures compiled by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons showed a 50 per cent rise in breast enhancements, while anti-ageing procedures such as face-lifts rose by more than a third.

reporters@mirror.co.uk

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2006
Words:344
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