Regulator highly critical of private online GP service

CQC very critical of online service, saying GPs were found to be offering medicines like strong sedatives and painkillers despite them being on a proscribed list

Posted 28 June 2017 by Gary Flood

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says a private video consultation service, Push Doctor, has been used unsafely and not providing safe, effective or well led services.

The firm behind the service is vigorously denying the critique, which includes claims that a doctor was found to be inappropriately prescribing sleeping disorder drugs.

GPs were found to be offering medicines like strong sedatives and painkillers, despite them being on a proscribed list, says the study.

Inspectors uncovered 137 instances in the past 12 months where a “do not prescribe” drug was prescribed. Push Doctor was found to have had an “ineffective system” for identifying and acting on these errors.

The company told healthcare news site HSJ that the CQC audit had a “large number of factual inaccuracies, which we are working on with the CQC currently to correct”.

The news could signal problems for the growing number of such online GP support systems, with the body potentially issuing reports on the 39 active in the UK market right now, though at least one, Babylon Doctor, passed its CQC probe in 2016.

That success could prove to be an exception, though, as HSJ says “several other digital provider inspections have been published raising serious failings in care, mostly around verifying patient identity and health when prescribing medicines”.

Push Doctor says it will continue to work closely with the CQC to ensure its meets the necessary guidelines.

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and social care in England, set up to monitor, inspect and regulate health and social care services.