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  • Fifth of patients in Wales finding it ‘very difficult’ to make a convenient GP appointment

    Fifth of patients in Wales finding it ‘very difficult’ to make a convenient GP appointment

    Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:58
  • MPs say NHS Digital is failing to uphold patient confidentiality

    MPs say NHS Digital is failing to uphold patient confidentiality

    Monday, 16 April 2018 14:13
  • GMC expecting 5,000 overseas doctors to sit language exam this year

    GMC expecting 5,000 overseas doctors to sit language exam this year

    Monday, 16 April 2018 09:26
  • CQC: online GP services are improving, ‘but some concerns remain’

    CQC: online GP services are improving, ‘but some concerns remain’

    Thursday, 29 March 2018 11:38
  • Health Select Committee renews request for reports of GP visa problems

    Health Select Committee renews request for reports of GP visa problems

    Monday, 19 March 2018 12:34

a comp image cbMarch 29 2018

More needs to be done to ensure online primary care services are as safe as general practice in physical premises, the Care Quality Commission has warned.

It’s latest inspection report indicates that services provided online such as GP consultations and prescriptions through independent websites and apps, have improved over the last 12 months. However, based on 55 inspections, it said further action is still needed from providers and the wider system to improve safety.

Among the concerns CQC has highlighted are:

  • inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics, including lowered thresholds for antibiotic prescribing as a physical examination was not possible;
  • high volumes of opioid-based medicines being prescribed without talking to the patient’s registered GP;
  • unsatisfactory approaches to safeguarding children and those who may not have the mental capacity to understand or consent to a consultation;
  • not collecting patient information or sharing information with a patient’s NHS GP;
  • inappropriate prescribing of medicines for long-term conditions, including failures to monitor the volume of asthma inhalers being prescribed to individuals when their condition should be regularly checked.

“As of February 28 2018, 43% of the providers CQC inspected were found not to be providing ‘safe’ care in accordance to the relevant regulations. This is an improvement from 86% not fully meeting these regulations on their first inspections,” said the CQC.

Overall, 97% of the providers were meeting the regulations around being ‘caring’, and 90% of the providers were meeting criteria around being ‘responsive’ to people’s needs.

Professor Steve Field, Chief Inspector of General Practice at the CQC, said: “While innovation should be encouraged, it must never come at the expense of quality. As with all health care services, patient safety must be at the heart of all decisions around what kind of care is offered and how it is delivered.

“This way of delivering primary care has an important place in the future of health provision – but it is still evolving. We must all work together … to ensure that this model fulfils its promise of accessible, responsive care while ensuring that the care delivered is always safe and high quality.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair, said: “It’s very concerning to see that even now, 43% of online consultation providers have been deemed unsafe in some respect. 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.”

The RCGP 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, she added.

Links:
CQC announcement    
RCGP comment           

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