The CQC has suspended or issued warnings to a number of online providers of primary care for failing to safeguard patients.
The regulator said this was done in order ‘to protect people in England who are using websites to obtain prescription medicines’.
Its newly published reports on four providers carry examples of ‘people being put at risk of harm, with insufficient checks on their identity, poor recording of their medical history and clarification of their symptoms, inappropriate medicines being prescribed, and lack of communication with the patient’s GP’, said the CQC.
It said it has therefore ‘used its urgent enforcement powers to suspend the registration of one of these providers, imposed conditions on two of them, and instructed the fourth to improve its practice’.
The affected sites were:
- Doctor Matt Ltd (www.theonlinesurgery.co.uk), which ‘was found to be issuing prescriptions after taking as little as 17 seconds to review patient questionnaires. CQC has suspended the registration of this service until the end of June’.
- Frosts Pharmacy Ltd (www.oxfordonlinepharmacy.co.uk), which ‘was found to be prescribing large quantities of inhalers for asthma without checking if the patient’s condition was out of control or if a diagnosis had been confirmed. CQC has had warning notices issued’.
- White Pharmacy Ltd (www.whitepharmacy.co.uk), which ‘was prescribing a high volume of opioid-based medicines with no system in place to confirm patients’ medical or prescribing histories. CQC has placed conditions on the provider to restrict its prescribing of these medicines’.
- i-GP Ltd (www.i-gp.uk), which ‘was issued requirement notices instructing it to make improvements in a number of areas, including around ensuring it has a robust system in place to verify the identity of its patients’.
The CQC added that ‘in a number of cases, providers took action immediately after the inspection to address some concerns’ and said the impact of the actions would be assessed upon reinspection.
The CQC has previously published only two inspection reports on web-based primary care, which it said ‘highlighted similar concerns’. Those inspections saw the regulator suspending the registration of HR Healthcare Ltd, while MD Direct voluntarily cancelled its registration.