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  • ‘e-Traffic light’ GP referral system indicates expected time to hospital appointment

    ‘e-Traffic light’ GP referral system indicates expected time to hospital appointment

    Monday, 23 April 2018 17:07
  • Fifth of patients in Wales finding it ‘very difficult’ to make a convenient GP appointment

    Fifth of patients in Wales finding it ‘very difficult’ to make a convenient GP appointment

    Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:58
  • MPs say NHS Digital is failing to uphold patient confidentiality

    MPs say NHS Digital is failing to uphold patient confidentiality

    Monday, 16 April 2018 14:13
  • GMC expecting 5,000 overseas doctors to sit language exam this year

    GMC expecting 5,000 overseas doctors to sit language exam this year

    Monday, 16 April 2018 09:26
  • CQC: online GP services are improving, ‘but some concerns remain’

    CQC: online GP services are improving, ‘but some concerns remain’

    Thursday, 29 March 2018 11:38

a medical professional at computer cbJanuary 4 2018

The Care Quality Commission is to start inspecting independent online healthcare services. 

Confirmation of the intention to extend the powers by the Department of Health means that “for the first time, all healthcare organisations in England that offer regulated care will be rated by the CQC.” It means the CQC will inspect an additional 800 or so providers alongside existing hospital and GP services.

“Examples of ‘independent doctors’ services include providers that offer healthcare (such as medical advice and prescriptions from a GP) online or digitally,” said the CQC. “Other examples of ‘independent doctors’ services include vaccination clinics, family planning clinics, slimming clinics and private GP surgeries (including walk-in centres) that do not have NHS contracts.”

In September 2017, the Department confirmed that it would broaden the CQC’s powers to include independent healthcare providers of cosmetic surgery, substance misuse and termination of pregnancy clinics. This latest announcement is the outcome of a further consultation and means that the award of a rating for a regulated service is set to become the default way that the regulator presents the judgements from its inspections.

More than 30 providers in England are currently registered with the CQC and offer primary care online or digitally. “CQC has inspected all of these providers and will publish a national report on what it has found about the quality and safety of online and digital healthcare in the New Year,” said the CQC.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented: “We are planning ahead to guarantee safer and better care for patients in the years to come. These changes are a world first for patient safety, modernising our tough Ofsted-style inspection scheme so we keep pace with the changing landscape of healthcare, as well as helping tech-savvy patients to make informed decisions about their care.”

The CQC will now develop an approach for how it will rate these additional services and launch a public consultation on this topic shortly.

NHS Digital has welcomed the announcement, with the CQC being able to cover ‘digital doctors’ to protect patients in the growing healthcare app industry. Hazel Jones, Programme Director for Apps and Wearables at NHS Digital, said: “This rating scheme will complement the NHS apps library, which aims to provide trusted digital tools for patients and the public to manage and improve their health.

“The library, which is still in test phase, currently includes a small number of GP apps which have all been assessed by the CQC. The requirement for CQC assessment is part of the set of digital assessment questions developers work through before an app is published on the library, which are jointly owned by the specialist organisations responsible for them.”

Links:
Department of Health announcement     
CQC announcement        
NHS Digital response       

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