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Care Quality Commission

Pharmacy2U not providing safe, effective or well-led services, CQC concludes

A report from CQC reveals Pharmacy2U must improve their online clinic in areas such as patient consent and emergency medical protocols.

Pharmacy2U does not provide ‘safe, effective or well-led services’ in accordance with regulations, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found.

In the report published on 29 June, inspectors listed several areas where the company must make improvements such as patient consent and emergency medical protocols.

Pharmacy2U runs an online clinic for patients that provides consultations, prescriptions and medicines by contracting GPs to work remotely doing consultations for patients applying for medicines online.

The report said “the provider had not considered what action might be needed in the event of an emergency situation” to enable the emergency services to be called if necessary.

Inspectors also found “there were no formal protocols in place for identifying and verifying the patient’s identity … and there could still be doubt about the identity of the patient requesting a prescription.”

Another issue flagged in the CQC report was that current guidelines and standards on treating asthma were not being adhered to, such as some patients with poorly controlled disease that had not been followed up. 

But, the CQC pointed out that following an inspection in February, the provider had “introduced steps to reduce risks to patients when prescribing asthma treatments and to ensure a patient’s own GP was informed when asthma medication was prescribed.”

The report said a customer survey of 20,000 patients had found that patients rated Pharmacy2U’s services as 8.9 out of 10.

In March, the CQC announced it was visiting every online primary care provider registered with them after concerns about patient safety.

A spokesperson for Pharmacy2U said they valued the CQC guidance and were already implementing the improvements suggested.

“Our Online Doctor Service is an innovative digital service practiced by GPs on the GMC GP register, which met the standards of a previous 2014 CQC inspection.”

“We have continued to operate the service according to the advice and guidance given in that report and welcome the new guidelines put in place by the CQC, which are now specific to online medical services and came into effect after our latest inspection.” 

In 2016, the General Pharmaceutical Council suspended Pharmacy2U’s commercial director for three months for selling patient data.

The CQC found in its latest inspection that policies and IT systems have now been put in place to protect the storage and use of all patient information.

Areas where Pharmacy2U must make improvement:

  • Ensure capacity and consent policies make reference to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and clarify staff responsibilities
  • Update medical questionnaires to capture all potential relevant information
  • Ensure focus on quality improvement and system of audit
  • Ensure medical emergencies procedures and protocols are effective
  • Maintain contracted GPs’ training records
  • Ensure contracted GPs are assessed and appraised
  • Ensure recruitment processes for non-clinical staff include medical fitness declarations
  • Ensure an effective patient identification process


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20203151

Readers' comments (2)

  • The above article interested me so much that it inspired me to read the full CQC report on line at their website.
    I would recommend that readers of the journal read the report in full for themselves.
    I shall refrain from making any comment on the case itself and leave others to make up there own minds.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Continuous questions about this healthcare provider. The most worrying is that patients are unsure if they represent local pharmacy businesses. Clearer marketing is needed to differentiate themselves from other contractors please.

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