Principles for good practice issued to protect patients online

Published: 08/11/2019

Healthcare organisations including regulators, royal colleges and faculties, are today Friday 8 November, 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 set 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 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and opticians.

The publication follows the release, in September, of a joint statement by healthcare regulators, which included a commitment 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.


Dr John Hughes, Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine said:

‘The Faculty is happy to endorse this guidance to help support good practice for remote consultations and prescribing. This is particularly important with regard to controlled medications and we are pleased to see that Opioids Aware is recognised as a resource to help prescribers and patients.’