Our response to Care Quality Commission's report into online primary care services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today published its review of every company in England that provides online primary care services, such as GP consultations and prescriptions.

Although the quality of care has improved over the past 12 months, the report highlights that more needs to be done to ensure patient safety with a significant proportion of providers still found not to be providing 'safe' care in accordance to the relevant regulations.

Responding to the State of Online Doctors report, Imelda Redmond, Healthwatch England’s National Director, said:

“This is a timely and important report from the CQC. Although there have been improvements since the inspections of two independent providers in late 2016, it highlights a worrying level of non-compliance, with 43% of online providers not providing safe care in accordance with current regulations.

The attractions of online services are obvious, and we know there is an appetite for people to make better use of technology, with services like web consultations and online prescriptions. They offer convenience and accessibility, particularly for those who struggle to make a face-to-face appointment with their GP.

However, people also need to have confidence in the safety of those providing these services. Indeed, when it comes to health and care people need to have absolute confidence in the reliability and quality of the service.

“This report is an important step to ensure patient safety is just as important in online services as it is in local doctor’s surgeries up and down the country. New models of health services must also provide quality care, and it is right that people are properly informed so that they can make the right decisions about where they go for advice and treatment.”