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Sunbeds still a burning issue. New regulations recommended by Parliamentary skin group

The British Association of Dermatologists welcomes the publication, today, of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin’s (APPGS) recommendations regarding sunbed regulation in England.

The British Association of Dermatologists worked closely with the APPGS to gather evidence and to consult with a range of stakeholders leading to an oral evidence session in the Houses of Parliament in January this year.

Professor Harry Moseley, spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists says:

“The evidence shows that despite the promising step forward made by the passing of the Sunbed (Regulation) Act 2010, many providers of sunbed facilities are failing to ensure that they reach basic standards. This proposed regulation would close loopholes, such as under-18s using unmanned tanning facilities, and see stricter enforcement for businesses that continue to irresponsibly use appliances that fail to meet standards, often producing radiant dose levels well over acceptable levels. Proportionate and sensible regulation of sunbeds is important to mitigate that risk and stem the rising tide of cases of skin cancer.

“Skin cancer cases in the UK are rising at an alarming rate and there is little doubt that sunbeds increase the risk of skin cancer in fair skinned populations.” 

Skin cancer rates in the UK are high compared with other cancers. There are around 100,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer alone each year and the actual figure may in fact be higher due to under-reporting. For melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, there are just under 13,000 cases a year and about 2,700 deaths.

The link between skin cancer and sunbeds has been well documented and in 2009 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, classified sunbeds as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans), the same classification as given to tobacco.

The 2010 Sunbed (Regulations) Act was the first step in restricting sunbeds and regulations have been enacted in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since the introduction of the regulations and the ban on use by under-18s, the number of young people using sunbeds has diminished. However in a report commissioned by CRUK, Public Health England found that of those under-18s still using sunbeds over half had been burnt, including all those who reported frequently using coin-operated/token operated salons, and over half had never been asked to show ID as proof of age. 

The recommendations from the APPGS ask for further action and better enforcement of existing regulations, particularly in England:

A Ban on Unstaffed Tanning Facilities
A ban on unstaffed tanning facilities (which already exists under the regulations enacted in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is considered vital as a way of ensuring that under-18s don’t access sunbeds and that other safety measures are adhered to. Currently regulations in England do not provide for such a ban and the BAD would strongly endorse the recommendation that the Department of Health urgently look into introducing this measure in England.

Appropriate Screening of all Customers’ Skin Types
If staff are not trained to recognise skin types or advise customers on how, for example, very fair, sensitive skin or the presence of an existing skin condition, might disqualify them from using a sunbed, the potential for harm is serious.

The APPGS recommends that the English sunbed regulations be extended to include the requirement that salon staff are fully trained in the different skin types and their associated risk levels when exposed to UV light, and thought should be given to a system of certification to ensure compliance.

Compliance Testing for radiant exposure (dose) and irradiance limits
British and European Standards, agreed in all EU countries, limit the strength (irradiance) of the UV emission. Equipment that emits high levels of UV radiation has the potential to cause increased harm in a short time period. The APPGS recommends that the English sunbed regulations be extended to include compliance testing for radiant exposure (dose) and irradiance limits. It is proposed by the APPGS that the Department of Health undertake a study into the appropriate method of measuring total dosage and irradiance. The agreed method of measurement should then be incorporated into the current list of investigative duties outlined in the 2010 Sunbed (Regulation) Act. In the meantime, however, it is important that operators stay within the currently prescribed limits.

Provision of balanced health information
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, sunbed regulations already contain provisions for this and might be used as precedents in English regulations. The detail of the content of such health information would be for the Department of Health to decide. 

Provision of safety goggles
The 2010 Sunbed (Regulation) Act already contains provision for protective eyewear to be mandatory but the recommendations of the APPGS (and Public Health England) also urge the Government to consider the challenge of verification with the possibility of mandating the type of eyewear to be used – i.e. those verified by a marking scheme.

Liverpool City Council raised a concern, shared by many, as to how possible it was to enforce existing regulations without a registry or licensing system. A 2009 survey of Local Authorities suggested that the majority would welcome the introduction of mandatory licensing of sunbed outlets. This could be made possible if the Local Government Association’s plans for a new system of local authority licensing are implemented (as set out in their report “Open for Business: rewiring licensing”). 

These recommendations represent a golden opportunity for the UK government to mitigate the unnecessary skin cancer risk from sunbeds through improving regulation, enforcement of regulation and provision of mandatory health information to users.



Deborah Mason 020 7391 6355
Matt Gass 020 7391 6084

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease.
British Association of Dermatologists, Willan House, 4 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 5HQ

Cancer Research UK, the British Association of Dermatologists and team up to help GPs tackle rising rates of skin cancer

Cancer Research UK, the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) and have teamed up to launch an updated online toolkit to help all GPs diagnose the UK’s most common cancer.

Launched today (May 9) in conjunction with BAD’s ‘Sun Awareness Week’, the skin cancer toolkit provides a range of images from real-life, in-clinic cases, to illustrate which lesions require urgent referral, routine referral or are benign.

Investment in the digital toolkit comes as Cancer Research UK announces that rates of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are now five times higher than 40 years ago.* 

The updated toolkit supports GPs in assessing atypical/borderline lesions in a variety of ways, including an image library, a forum that enables them to discuss lesions and share their experience, and clinical cases studies.

GPs will be able to access this important tool on their mobile devices ensuring that it is always accessible. GPs will also be able to record their learning in an online appraisal folder.

The first digital toolkit developed by Cancer Research UK and BAD was launched on in 2012, and helped GPs identify ‘red flag’ cancer symptoms. An in depth analysis of the programme in 2013 showed that its users had significantly increased their confidence in referring skin lesions. The toolkit was used by over 10,000 GPs and was highly commended in the PM Society Digital Awards 2013.

Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: ‘Skin cancer is the UK’s most common type of cancer – in fact it is more common than all other cancers combined. One of the problems is that GPs receive very limited training in dermatology – as little as a week – and are then expected to be able to recognise cancerous lesions from a whole host of other issues, and to know which to refer urgently.

‘Not only is this a problem for the GPs, but it can also delay the patient accessing a Consultant Dermatologist. This toolkit, available across a range of media platforms, is a simple visual guide, highlighting the differences between the many different types of skin cancer and non-cancerous lesions. We hope it will be bookmarked and used regularly by doctors as it is a very valuable tool.’

Liz Bates, Primary Care Engagement Lead for Cancer Research UK, said: ‘GPs are expected to constantly maintain and improve their knowledge, but with increasing demands on their time, we know that GPs are struggling to find time to study. We are committed to providing educational content that is easy to access and targets real problems that GPs face in day-to-day practice. We believe that digital innovations are key to providing the vital information that GPs need at their fingertips.’

Dr James Quekett, a practising GP and director of Educational Services,, commented: ‘This much-needed resource provides an excellent, structured, problem-based approach to the diagnosis of malignancy. What is particularly valuable is that it has the input of specialists but it is presented in a format that is useful for the problems GPs encounter in primary care. It moves away from a teaching model into a collaborative learning approach which is much more effective.’


For media information:
Andrew Baud, Catherine McNulty or Lydia Hayward
T: +44 (0) 20 3397 3383
M: +44 (0) 7775 715775

Bristol-Myers Squibb has provided funding to support the development of this toolkit. Bristol-Myers Squibb has had no editorial control over its content. The original toolkit, launched in 2012, was funded by the Department of Health’s Third Sector Investment Programme. is the largest and most active network of doctors in the UK. has a membership of more than 205,000 doctors. It supports them in making the best decisions for their patients, with services including forums for discussion, extensive online education resources and a range of editorial content, such as conference highlights. also offers a range of market-leading services that deliver measurable impact and outcomes to pharma and other healthcare companies. These include targeted display advertising (CPM and CPC), email marketing, e-newsletters, promotional campaigns, educational programmes and recruitment services.

About The British Association of Dermatologists:
The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease. The BAD provides free patient information on skin diseases and runs a number of high profile campaigns, including Sun Awareness, which runs from May to September annually and includes national Sun Awareness Week in May. Website: Email:

About Cancer Research UK
• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
• The charity’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
• Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

About skin cancer:
There are two main types of skin cancer: non-melanoma, the most common, and melanoma, which is less common but more dangerous. The toolkit features images and information on these and also pre-cancerous lesions and a range of others.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed every year. However, a recent study estimates that rates of the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), are now twice as high as government statistics suggest and that there are now around 200,000 cases of BCC each year, meaning it has risen 80 per cent over the past decade.

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