The Care Quality Commission has found an online primary care provider was operating without adequate professional insurance in place. 

Index Medical Limited is one of 39 online healthcare providers being inspected by the health regulator. The criteria is based on five questions – Index Medical Limited, run by a team of GPs, was able to show it was effective, caring and responsive to peoples’ needs, however it did not provide safe and well led services.

The CQC stated that on the day of its announced inspection on 4 May, employer liability, public liability and adequate professional insurances were not in place – particularly regarding two GPs, where the online doctor service, according to the report, was unable to confirm the doctors’ medical indemnity insurance.

“The location where regulated activities were registered to be carried out had no business insurance or public liability insurance”, the report stated. “We also found that the provider had no employee liability insurance in place, which is a legal requirement.”

“Amendments to consultation questionnaires were made by a GP without a licence to practise.”

“We told the provider of our concerns and we received, the day following the inspection, confirmation that all forms of insurance were now in place.”

Areas where the provider should make improvements are:

  • Ensure systems and processes are reviewed for patients to acknowledge and consent to being prescribed medicines for unlicensed use
  • Ensure systems and processes are reviewed with regards to record keeping of inductions undertaken by new staff
  • Introduce a process to review patients who may have been prescribed medicines which were the subject of medicine alerts

Another key issue of the CQC report, led by a CQC lead inspector, a pharmacist and two GP specialist advisors found that there was no effective system in place to check the identity of patients using the service.

“Identification checks did not provide assurance that the patient was who they said they were, whether they were male or female or over the age of 18.”

They were advised to ensure systems and processes are reviewed with regards to record keeping of inductions undertaken by new staff.

The investigation did reveal systems were in place to protect personal information about patients. And it found that patients were treated in line with best practise guidance and appropriate medical records were maintained.

An independent survey via Trusted Shops which showed that (based on 3000 reviews) 94% of patients were extremely happy with the service.

The CQC has advised Index Medical Limited, which provides online primary care consultation service and medicine ordering service, that they must operate effective systems and processes to assess and monitor the service.

Ten inspection reports have already been published – the latest being Pharmacy2U and PushDr – it is believed all 39 inspections expected to be completed by autumn.

It is part of a “programme of inspections” into “digital healthcare providers” in the UK, which the CQC said would “prioritise those services it considers as potentially presenting a significant risk to patients”.

The 39 digital healthcare providers being investigated by the CQC:

Ada Digital Health

Antrobus Medical Limited

Anytime Medical Limited

Babylon Healthcare Services Limited

Doctor Care Anywhere Limited

Dr Morton’s

Dr Now (Now Healthcare Group Limited)

Escripts Marketing Limited

Expert Health Limited

FMC Marketing Limited

Freedomhealth Ltd

Health Bridge Ltd London

Hexpress Healthcare Ltd

Homeocare Ltd

Icebreaker Medical

Index Medical Limited

iPrimary Care Limited

Medefer Limited

Medical Prescription Services Ltd

MSF Medical Services Limited

Online Clinic (UK) Limited

Postmymeds Limited

PrivateDoc Ltd

Push Doctor Limited – read our coverage here

Red Label Medical Limited

SH:24 C.I.C

The Boots Company plc

The GP Service (UK) Ltd

VideoDoc LTD

Yakub Chemist Limited

Doc Reports Limited (iGP)

Doctor Matt Ltd

e-med Private Medical Services

Express Dispense Ltd

Frosts Pharmacy Ltd

HR Healthcare Limited

Nationwide Pharmacies Ltd

Pharmacy2U Limited – read our coverage here

White Pharmacy Ltd