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CQC publishes online GP guidance as two digital healthcare providers banned

CQC publishes online GP guidance as two digital healthcare providers banned

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is calling on people to act with caution when engaging with online primary healthcare services, such as online doctors or considering buying medicines on the internet.

CQC's inspections of some companies that provide online primary care have found "significant concerns" about patient safety. The watchdog for clinical services in the UK has published information on how it inspects and regulates providers of digital primary care, as well as advice for the public when considering using an online doctor.

CQC has published reports based on urgent inspections of two providers of digital primary care, MD Direct (which had traded through the website and HR Healthcare Ltd (through the website

Immediately after the inspections, CQC suspended the registration of HR Healthcare Ltd. MD Direct responded to CQC's concerns by voluntarily cancelling its registration.

Both providers have stopped providing services to patients in England ( now uses an alternative online GP provider for its prescription service).

Inspectors found a catalogue of errors including there no or minimal identity checks for patients, no checking of patient capacity or consent, no systems to contact the patients' NHS GP, inadequate medical history taking.

Following an internal review of all 43 online services that are registered, CQC has brought forward a programme of inspections prioritising those services it considers as potentially presenting a significant risk to patients.

It issued a joint statement with the General Medical Council, the General Pharmaceutical Council, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to remind clinicians and service providers that they must continue to follow professional guidelines.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the Care Quality Commission and Wesleyan Member's Advisory Board member, said: "We know that these websites can present convenient ways for people to access advice, treatment and medication. However some services may be putting patients at risk.

We are particularly concerned that risks to patients may not always be appropriately assessed or managed when they buy medicines online. We will continue to work closely with the other regulatory bodies to share intelligence where we have concerns and take action where necessary. Providers and clinicians must be clear on their responsibilities to protect people who use their services."

Source: Cover Magazine

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