Government beauty centre probe finds no wrong

Government probe unearths no broken laws, but inspectors criticised for not being undercover

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 3:44am

A government investigation into high-risk procedures at beauty centres has uncovered no legal violations, lawmakers were told yesterday.

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

"Six of these centres employed qualified doctors, while one has stopped providing the related therapies. No violations were found," she said.

The inspectors initially collected more than 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 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 follow four women getting septic shock after receiving blood transfusion "health treatments" at a DR beauty chain centre. One of the women died and three remain in hospital. All four contracted a rare and deadly superbug.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the police - who have begun a criminal investigation into the case - would use the law's full force to charge the person responsible, but refused to give an update on the probe as it is still in progress.

The government has appointed a steering committee to conduct a citywide review of private health care services, and a working group will soon be set up to focus on the beauty industry.

"In the short term, we will define which high-risk treatments should be restricted to being performed only by medical practitioners," Ko said.

He added that the government may provide guidelines or training to beauty centres on how to handle low-risk procedures, such as sterilising medical tools.

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