Online primary care: response from the regulators

26 Sep 2019 03:50 PM

As regulators of healthcare services, medicines and health professionals throughout the UK, we recognise the importance of encouraging innovation, improvement and sustainability in care, while ensuring that it meets fundamental standards of quality and safety.

Online provision of health and care services challenges the existing regulatory landscape by transforming how care is delivered, where and by whom.

We know the majority of medicines are prescribed and dispensed safely and appropriately online. However, in some cases people are able to access medicines that are not appropriate for them, or in quantities that their regular GP or other NHS services would not prescribe for them. The impact on people and their families can be catastrophic.

Over time, we have become concerned that some providers of online primary care are configuring services in ways that take them out of scope of some or all UK regulators. This means they are not legally subject to the same inspections and safety checks.

A UK-wide cross regulatory forum was established in February 2017. As members, we share information and work together to take a coordinated approach, address regulatory gaps, and help improve the quality and safety of services for people in the UK. We continue to develop our understanding of the benefits and risks of primary care services delivered online, and we work with health and care providers to encourage the use of evidence-based best practice. Members of the forum have specific actions and plans to achieve this: