Guidance and top tips for doctors and patients on virtual consultations

On Monday 5 April, new guidance from the General Medical Council came into force on good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices.

This latest iteration of the guidance first published in 2013 reflects the increasing trend for patients to see healthcare professionals via remote and virtual consultations which has become more common during the pandemic. You can read our earlier post on virtual online healthcare consultations here

The guidance makes clear that healthcare professionals “should work to the same standards when prescribing remotely as they would when seeing patients face to face”. It also includes six top tips for patients to follow when accessing care and treatment online.

Commenting on the ‘top tips’ GMC medical director and director of education and standards, Professor Colin Melville said:

“Following these simple tips will help patients to stay safe when accessing care online”.

So what are these ‘top tips’ patients should follow?

Patients should:

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

The regulator has produced a downloadable guide: How to keep safe when getting medicine or treatment online which has been published by the GMC and eight other UK regulators (CQC, General Pharmaceutical Council, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society).

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