Wales will introduce tighter controls for tattoos and piercings

Wales will introduce stricter controls on tattoo artists, body piercers and cosmetic clinics.

It will be the first UK country to introduce mandatory licensing aimed at reducing infections and poor working practices.

The new rules will create a public register of licensees, with approximately 3,500 GPs and 1,868 workplaces requiring approval.

The legislation is part of the final phase of the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 to improve standards in the industry.

It was supposed to be introduced in 2020 but was delayed due to COVID and Brexit.

The Welsh government started a 12-week consultation today to seek input from practitioners, the public, local authorities and other stakeholders.

Some firms acknowledged that the stricter requirements would be a “big shock”.

But tattoo artist Ashley Davies, who runs Stronghold Tattoo in Cardiff, said the move is positive for the industry.

“This is great Wales will be the first UK country to launch a national licensing program for our industry. This will raise standards and should be adopted.”

Ffion Hughes, permanent makeup and paramedical tattoo specialist at Little Wren Beauty & Aesthetics in Caernarfon, North Wales agreed. “This mandatory program will provide a level playing field for reputable businesses in the industry,” he said.

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There are signs that stricter requirements are paying off – those who voluntarily undertake a second-level award in infection prevention and control have a passing rate of 95%.

But some critics believe the changes won’t go far enough. They argue that the new rules will not prevent some individuals from operating unlicensed, including self-taught tattoo artists known in the industry as “scratchers”.

Frank Atherton, Wales’ chief medical officer, thinks the new plan will work. “Good standards of hygiene and infection control are essential by all special procedures practitioners and businesses, as these procedures can cause harm if not done properly.

“This new mandatory licensing scheme will ensure that both customers and practitioners are adequately protected at all times.

“I am delighted that these upcoming changes have been widely welcomed by practitioners in Wales, and many have already volunteered to meet the new standards.”

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