No violations found in checks on beauty centres

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2012, 3:56pm

A government crackdown on high-risk procedures at beauty centres has found no violations of the law since it began its inspections early this month, lawmakers were told on Friday.

Health department director Dr Constance Chan Hon-yee told a Legislative Council panel meeting that department inspectors have visited seven beauty centres.

“Six of these centres employed qualified doctors, while one has stopped providing the related therapies. No violation has been found under these actions”, she said.

The inspectors initially collected over 200 advertisements posted by about 50 beauty centres that promote high-risk treatments such as stem cell therapy, injections and lasers, she said.

Civic Party legislator Kwok Ka-ki said the government should send undercover inspectors in disguise to the centres. “You are sending in officers who [might as well wear signs on their heads] saying ‘I am coming to catch you’. How can you find anything inappropriate in this case?” said Kwok.

The inspections began after four women suffered from septic shock after receiving a blood transfusion “health treatment” at a DR beauty chain centre. One woman died and three others remain in hospital. All four were found to have contracted a rare and deadly superbug.

Speaking in the same panel meeting, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the police – who have begun a criminal investigation into the case – would use any related law to charge the person responsible for the blunders, but refused to give an update on the police probe because it is still in progress.

“The government-appointed steering committee will soon set up a working group to work on related to beauty centres,” Ko said. “In the short term, we will define what high-risk treatments in the market should be restricted to be performed only by medical practitioners.”

The government may provide guidelines to beauty centres on how to handle low-risk procedures such as sterilising medical tools, he said.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum expressed concern about loopholes in the law that allow beauty centres to provide high-risk treatments. They urged the government to provide a short-term measure to control the unscrupulous practices in the industry, before drawing up regulations – which may take a few years to complete.