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Lloydspharmacy's Online Doctor first to ace CQC inspection

As part of the online service, GPs are alerted when patients require face-to-face care

Lloydspharmacy's online prescribing service has become the first of 39 digital healthcare providers being inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to pass all of the regulator’s inspection requirements.

In March, the CQC announced a "programme of inspections" into digital healthcare providers in the UK, which it said would "prioritise those services it considers as potentially presenting a significant risk to patients".

Thirty-nine providers are expected to be investigated by autumn, the CQC confirmed to C+D earlier this month.

In its latest inspection report published today (July 18), the CQC found that Lloydspharmacy’s Online Doctor service is providing “safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led services” – becoming the first of the providers in the inspection cohort to pass each of the five areas covered by a CQC inspection.

Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor – registered with the CQC under the trading name Expert Health Limited – allows patients to be managed by a doctor remotely and then receive their medicines.

The CQC noted that “approximately 70%” of its 1.3 million registered users choose to collect their medicine from a pharmacy.

Sainsbury’s branches contribute to positive results

Lloydspharmacy claimed its online service “has the largest network of pharmacies directly linked to an online doctor service”.

The CQC did not inspect the multiple’s “affiliated pharmacies” when investigating the online prescribing and GP consultation service. However, the regulator did recognise the improved outcomes that Lloydspharmacy’s combined on-and-offline approach to healthcare had produced.

Reviews of consultations and prescribing practices every six months revealed a 2% prescribing error rate, compared to national average of 7.5%, while an audit demonstrated that just 1.3% of users of its emergency contraception service had become pregnant “compared to a national average of 2.5% to 6%”, the CQC noted.

Lloydspharmacy's parent company Celesio UK bought all 281 Sainsbury’s pharmacies in 2015, with the handover completed in September 2016. The “ability of patients to collect prescriptions from Sainsbury’s branches during the supermarkets’ extended [operating] hours” had “facilitated the positive results” for the sexual health service, the CQC concluded.

It noted that certain medicines have to be collected in-store to allow a face-to-face interaction, including the first prescription for weight loss medicine or a contraceptive.

"Blended approach"

Amanda Dorkes, Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor’s clinical director, said the company’s “blended approach goes far beyond simply prescribing medication”.

Lloydspharmacy’s 15 GPs, and one independent prescribing pharmacist, are alerted to circumstances where patients require face-to-face care and are directed to go into a bricks-and-mortar Lloydspharmacy, Ms Dorkes said.

Andy Sloman, Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor managing director, said: “The results of our CQC inspection clearly highlight a way forward for an industry that has been called into question recently.”

Last week, Boots confirmed to C+D that its online services were inspected by the CQC "a few weeks ago" and it expects to receive the report "in approximately six weeks".

Visit C+D Jobs for the latest Lloydspharmacy vacancies.

What do you make of the CQC's findings?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

You would need a good number of patient deaths for communitypharmacy and the multiples to be shaken up by the government. This is what it would take to make the public wake up.

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

I am reliably informed that a big media organisation has reporters embedded in community Pharmacy and are obviously collating and gathering information about professional and patient safety issues. They must have heard so much to invest so much in a story like this. I personally think this was overdue.

I think the people who should be prepared for some serious egg on the face are the big chains, the CQC and our world famous GPHC. My concern is that it will expose how a profession meant to be run by highly educated Pharmacists is being run by staff who barely have any GCSEs. I think this will reinforce the argument why in this format we don't qualify to be called a Profession and also why the Department of Health should cease to fund us as a Profession. We honestly do not deserve this funding especially with the decision to turn Technicians into de facto Pharmacists. We are in for interesting times. 

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I can't wait ... especially for the high and mighty GPhC (or the RPSGB Legal Dept v2.0) who 'regulates' standards but became, for the multiples, the de facto business development and disciplinary depts for the multiples.

paul lisbon, GP

CQC does not have the Power, Balls or the guts to take action agianst a Giant like Lloyds:

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Having read the Mirror report online (oh, the irony) it states that all supplies were prescribed by a GMC registered GP. While I am no fan of on-line medication supply, any issue is surely with those individuals. The report includes details of time taken to have the supply "approved" by the GP - Given that many of the consultations took a considerable length of time, it would appear that consideration to the appropriateness of the supply has been given (although personally, I think the supply of zolpidem is open to some discussion, however rigorous the online form is)

John Cleese, Production & Technical


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