The UK’s healthcare regulators have issued a joint statement on the regulation of online provision of health and care services.
Through the joint statement, there is recognition that online provision of health and care services challenges the existing regulatory landscape by transforming how care is delivered, where and by whom.
At the same time there is also realisation of the importance of encouraging innovation, improvement and sustainability in care.
The challenge for healthcare regulators is that existing regulatory frameworks does not always fit well with online provision of health and care services. The statement said that: “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.”
In response to this, a UK-wide cross regulatory forum was established by the main healthcare regulators and this forum will:
- Jointly develop shared principles on remote consultations and prescribing to provide support to regulated healthcare providers and professionals.
- Jointly develop information for the public to consider when using online services.
- The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) specifically has published updated guidance for pharmacy owners providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.
- The General Medical Council (GMC) has guidance for doctors on remote consultations and prescribing, as well as specific advice on good practice in this area. Later this year it plans to launch a call for evidence on whether it’s prescribing guidance needs to be updated in light of the fast pace of change in remote healthcare services.
- The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has inspected all registered online providers in England and published the findings from the first programme of inspections. All registered online providers will now receive a quality rating following inspection. CQC has requested changes to the law to bring online providers into regulation that have so far been out of scope due to their configuration, which means they must be registered with CQC by law.
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- General Medical Council
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- General Dental Council
- Nursing & Midwifery Council
- Health and Care Professions Council
- Social Work England
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