This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pul jul aug2020 cover 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

Independents' Day

GMC and royal colleges publish guidance on online prescribing

Healthcare professionals are expected to follow ten new principles when providing remote consultations and prescribing online, released today by the GMC and other Royal Colleges.

The new good practice guidelines have been agreed by the GMC, CQC, and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to try and ensure patient safety online.

The guidelines include understanding how to identify vulnerable patients and take appropriate steps to protect them, carry out clinical assessments and medical record checks and raise concerns when safeguards are not in place.

GPs and other healthcare professionals were also advised to:

  • Keep notes that fully explain and justify the decisions they make,
  • Share all relevant information with colleagues and other health and social care providers involved in their care,
  • Make appropriate arrangements for aftercare,
  • Explain that they can only prescribe if it is safe to do so.

The advice said: ‘It is important for healthcare professionals and employers to consider the limitations of remote services when deciding the scope of practice and range of medicines prescribed.

‘Some categories of medicines are not suitable to be prescribed remotely unless certain safeguards are in place.’

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘The flexibility of accessing healthcare online can benefit patients, but it is imperative these services do not impact on their safety, especially when doctors are prescribing high-risk medicines.

‘Doctors working for online services have the same obligations to follow our guidance and to prescribe safely as they would do for face-to-face consultations.

‘These principles will remind all healthcare professionals of the importance of prioritising the safety and welfare of patients when prescribing medication remotely, and will help facilitate a culture where unsafe practice is called out and acted on.’

It comes after new rules for online prescribing were set by the pharmacy regulator in response to concerns that patients were being put at risk.

In May it was revealed that the General Pharmaceutical Council had put the burden of policing online pharmacists on GPs.

Two GPs were suspended from the GMC register for inappropriately prescribing opioids online in July.

Readers' comments (5)

  • ‘In May it was revealed that the General Pharmaceutical Council had put the burden of policing online pharmacists on GPs.’
    WTF. I’m already doing broken boilers and gambling addiction!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • No DecorumEst, as a GP you need to do more. It is never enough and we will always want more. Jobs for you: Protecting vulnerable people (GPs included), clear up after unsafe hospital discharges and errors, become a parent to many children whose parents are unable to parent, clear up after botched cosmetic jobs and private unnecessary tests, become a counsellor as we run out of meds, clean the air vents for CQC, show you are competent by logging CPDs and demonstrating you are up to date, deal with flu jab shortages, deal with endless time wasting medication changes for cost and shortages, do more meetings at the CCG, federations and PCNs to show engagement, deal with surveys and complaints........the list is endless. By the way, we expect you to see patients too on top of all these if you can remember after all your other jobs.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Right Oh! Truth Finder. I'll knuckle-down.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Just dont do it sorted.Call me a luddite am I bovvered.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Where are these new guidelines?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say