Online primary care services to be rated by CQC

The Care Quality Commission will have powers to award ratings to independent and community health services, including online GPs that offer prescriptions.

Man holding tablet computer while pulling an item from a pharmacy's shelf

Independent and community healthcare services, including online GPs that offer prescriptions are to be rated, as well as inspected, by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Following a consultation held in 2017, the Department of Health (DH) has increased the health and social care regulator’s powers to award ratings to independent community health services and independent doctors. All rated services must display their rating.

GP practices, NHS and independent hospitals, and adult social care services are already rated as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

The move follows a decision by the DH in September to broaden the CQC’s powers to rate, as well as inspect, independent healthcare providers, including cosmetic surgery providers, substance misuse care, and termination of pregnancy clinics.

NHS Digital programme director for apps and wearables, Hazel Jones, welcomed the announcement.

She said: “This supports the NHS-wide aim to provide reassurance and trusted advice around the growing number of digital healthcare tools available.”

Some of the online primary care services that will be rated offer pharmacy services, but a CQC spokesperson said it will not be specifically rating the pharmacy services.

They said: “The CQC’s role is to regulate the provision of medical advice and prescriptions from online GPs, not to rate pharmacy services. Regardless of how a GP consultation is delivered, we expect it to be of the same standard of care and safety as you would expect in a more traditional setting.”

The CQC has completed reviews of all online primary care providers and will publish a report on quality and safety of online and digital healthcare in 2018.

While some inspected online primary care providers have been found to be safe and effective, others have been found to not be providing safe care.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Online primary care services to be rated by CQC;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204184