Private online GP services have recently been investigated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC is an independent regulator of all health and social care services in England. The online GP services enable patients to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, access their records and view clinical correspondence. There are currently 35 companies running these services in England.
The CQC investigation found that five of these companies had stopped training and that 13 of them were found to be in breach of safety standards at the end of February 2018, as a result of problems with prescribing drugs and carrying out checks on patients. The regulator’s assessment of the healthcare service focuses on 5 key areas, including safety. Currently 43% of non-NHS online GP services in England are below the standard of safety expected.
The investigation discovered a number of problems, such as too readily prescribing antibiotics, lack of checks when prescribing drugs to women who may be pregnant or breast feeding and prescribing drugs to patients who should be referred for assessment.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, expressed concern with these findings and stated that “new services will inevitably experience some teething problems, but when our patients’ health is at risk – urgent, swift action must be taken to comprehensively address these before the service is rolled out further.”
However, despite the issues, the inspectors said that the investigation showed an improvement from the previous year, when 86% of online GP services were not meeting the required standard set by NHS GP practices.
Professor Stokes-Lampard has advised that “the College is currently developing guidance for patients, GPs and commissioners who are considering alternatives to face-to-face consultations, to encourage them to only do so after careful consideration of all potential risks and benefits.”
Moosa-Duke Solicitors are specialists in all aspects of clinical negligence matters and have a specialist experience of dealing with claims involving vulnerable clients. If you or a member of your family, have concerns regarding the care or treatment that you have received from an online GP service, please contact us on 0116 254 7456 or complete your details at the Contact Us page for a no obligation conversation.