Nearly half of online GPs are providing unsafe care for patients, the health watchdog has warned.
Independent online services, including pharmacies, websites and apps, are prescribing high volumes of painkillers without talking to the patients’ GPs and are inappropriately prescribing antibiotics, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.
It also expressed concern that approaches to safeguarding children and those lacking the mental capacity to understand or consent to a consultation may be unsatisfactory and that the prescribing of medicines for long-term conditions could be inappropriate.
Providers were also failing to collect patient information or share it with the relevant doctor, who should have accurate records of treatments and health problems.
The CQC, which has inspected every company that provides such online services in England, said that by February, 43 per cent were not providing “safe” care or adhering to regulations.
It warned that technological advances should never be used at the expense of quality care, which prioritised patient safety.
The CQC said it would continue to hold providers to account until they became as safe as general practices.