GMC patient guide on safe online healthcare

  • Date: 06 April 2021

A GUIDE for patients on how to keep safe when getting medicine or treatment online has been produced by the General Medical Council in collaboration with other healthcare organisations.

Publication coincides with the GMC’s new Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices (effective 5 April) and reflects the increasing trend for patients to see healthcare professionals via remote and virtual consultations, which has become even more common during the pandemic.

The guidance makes clear that UK doctors should work to the same standards when prescribing remotely as they would when seeing patients face to face.

The new guide urges patients accessing healthcare online to follow six ‘top tips’ to ensure the treatment or advice they receive is safe and right for them:

  1. Check if the online healthcare service and healthcare professionals working there are registered with UK regulators.
  2. Ask questions about how the service works.
  3. Answer questions honestly about their own health and medical history.
  4. Find out their options for treatment and how to take any medicines they’re prescribed.
  5. Expect to be asked for consent for information to be shared with other healthcare professionals involved in their care.
  6. Check what after-care they will receive.

Professor Colin Melville, medical director and director of education and standards at the GMC, said: "The pandemic has made remote consultations a new reality for many of us. The overwhelming majority of doctors provide excellent care, whether they see patients in person or remotely.

"But, sadly, there are exceptions. Our guidance makes it clear to doctors that the same principles of good practice apply whether a consultation is face to face or online. And following these simple tips will help patients to stay safe when accessing care online."

Link: How to keep safe when getting medicine or treatment online

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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