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Choosing an online healthcare service

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Online healthcare services can be a convenient way to get medical advice, treatment and medicines.

See advice about online pharmacies including the EU common logo to check if a pharmacy is operating legally.

A reputable company should provide a safe and effective service. However, we have found that some services may put patients at risk, particularly when they prescribe medicines online.

If you plan to use an online healthcare service, here are some tips to help you.

If it's an online doctor service, check that they are registered with CQC.

Find them using the search box at the top of this page, or call us on 03000 616161.

If they are registered we will inspect to check that they are meeting the legal standards for safe, effective, high-quality and compassionate care. You can read reports of any inspection we have carried out.

Check details about the service.

What is their address, are they based in England, UK or elsewhere?

How can you contact them if you have questions or concerns?

How do they keep your information safe and who might they share it with?

The service provided.

Are you clear how much the service will charge for the consultation, investigations, treatment or prescriptions?

Check who is dealing with your query and giving you advice.

Find out who works at the service and who you are dealing with. If they are based in the UK, check that they are registered on the General Medical Council register.

If they are registered overseas what are their details? Doctors who are not GMC-registered will not necessarily work to the same clinical standards.

Are all the doctors at the service registered?

When you are having an online consultation.

The doctor should:

  • verify that you are who you say you are
  • ask you to give a detailed medical history, including important health problems (past and present), current medication and any allergies
  • ask your permission to share the consultation with your GP – if you do not consent to this the online service may be unable to prescribe to you

If you receive a prescription.

Have you been given clear information about the medicine, including:

  • what it's for?
  • when and how to take it?
  • what are the possible side effects?

If you consider having medical tests done online.

Who will be reviewing test results?

How will they share test results with you?

What follow-up and support will be available for you?

If you have any concerns about the medical advice or treatment you have been offered online, please let us know. See 'tell us about your care' below.

Last updated:
21 July 2017


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