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Principles for good practice issued to protect patients online

Healthcare organisations including regulators, royal colleges and faculties, are today, the 8 November 2019 issuing a set of principles to help protect patient safety and welfare when accessing potentially harmful medication online or over the phone.

The jointly agreed High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing sets out the good practice expected of healthcare professionals when prescribing medication online.

The ten principles , underpinned by existing standards and guidance, include that healthcare professionals are expected to:

  • Understand how to identify vulnerable patients and take appropriate steps to protect them
  • Carry out clinical assessments and medical record checks to ensure medication is safe and appropriate
  • Raise concerns when adequate patient safeguards aren’t in place.

These principles apply to all healthcare professionals involved in providing consultations and medication to patients remotely, including pharmacists, doctors, nurses, dentists and opticians.

The publication follows the release a commitment from healthcare regulators to work together and with partner organisations to develop shared principles on remote consultations and prescribing.

The principles have been co-authored and agreed by:

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Care Quality Commission. Faculty of Pain Medicine, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

Trevor Patterson, Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Society NI, said:

These agreed principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing will highlight to pharmacists and other healthcare professionals that patient safety must remain their primary concern when consulting or prescribing online and will help support a culture where safe practice is promoted”.


The High level principles can be found on the Code and Standards page of our website, under Regulators’ Joint Statements.