In the UK, more than 2 million people buy medicines regularly over the internet from legitimate online pharmacies. If you are considering obtaining prescription medications online, it’s important that you familiarise yourself with the important information below.
Care Quality Commission (CQC)
The Care Quality Commission regulates both the NHS and private healthcare providers.
All online medical providers in the UK should be registered with the CQC and all doctors involved should divulge their names when communicating with patients. This helps ensure that the doctors only prescribe medicines when appropriate and that the entire service being provided complies with UK standards.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor is registered with the CQC. This registration allows our doctors to manage patients without the need for face-to-face meetings. CQC registration also shows that LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor has been assessed to comply with the Care Standards Act 2000. This act covers everything from data protection and medical records, to clinical protocols and the recruitment and training of doctors.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor is registered with the CQC under the name Expert Health Limited, with registration number E010000570.
You can contact the Care Quality Commission directly, using these contact details:
Care Quality Commission
103-105 Bunhill Row
Tel: 03000 616161
Our CQC Inspection Report
In May 2017, the Care Quality Commission carried out a comprehensive inspection of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. We passed all aspects of the inspection and, as stated in the resulting report (which can be read here).
The inspection team was comprised of a CQC Lead Inspector, a second CQC Inspector, a CQC Director, a Pharmacist Specialist and two GP Specialist Advisors, who visited our office and spoke with many members of staff.
The first area looked at was safety. The CQC found that we employ enough GPs to meet patient demand, and was satisfied that each of our GPs had received the appropriate training. That we kept clear records of prescriptions, and properly checked patient identity before commencing treatment.
The inspection was also satisfied with the efficacy of our service, noting that our consultation templates had been peer-reviewed both internally and externally by doctors. The report noted that we audited our procedures to improve effectiveness – in the case of emergency contraception, we found that our pregnancy rates were lower than the national average and that this may be due to morning after pills being available from Sainsbury’s stores that had extended opening hours.
Another aspect of the inspection was the degree to which we were found to be caring; the report made reference to our internal staff audits, which were put in place to ensure all employees maintain high standards of customer service and care. Patient feedback was also considered, and attention drawn to the fact that 95% of patients would recommend our service to friends or family.
In assessing how responsive our service is to patient needs, the CQC inspection took note of the amount of information available on our site, and the ability to order an item for delivery or pick it up from a LloydsPharmacy store. We have 1,800 stores around the country, and are uniquely positioned amongst our competitors to offer same-day access to treatment. Our pharmacy network also allows us to blend the convenience of our online service with crucial face-to-face care; as noted in the CQC report, “Patients receiving contraception medicines are required to attend the pharmacy to have their blood pressure and weight checked.”
Lastly, our service was found to be well led. Our management structure was deemed effective and staff were found to be happy, supported, and well-equipped to give feedback. All patient information was found to be stored safely, ensuring confidentiality.
Most encouragingly, the report picked up on our ability to resolve issues quickly and safely. Following the initial inspection, we responded quickly to the CQC’s feedback, putting in place several changes to improve our service. In one instance, we made an alteration to our service to ensure that prescriptions requiring height and weight checks could not be accessed until accurate readings had been taken and entered into the system.
These kinds of changes are constantly being implemented, whether in response to official inspections, patient feedback or input from our staff. Though we are delighted with the results of the CQC’s report, we will strive to maintain our high standards and remain open to feedback and change.
General Medical Council
All our doctors are registered with the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) and comply with explicit GMC guidelines on remote prescribing.
You can check our doctors' GMC registrations online here.
Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) monitors medicines and medical devices sold or distributed in the UK. They have the power to prosecute those who manufacture and distribute counterfeit products in the UK.
For more information click here.
General Pharmaceutical Council
All retail pharmacies in Great Britain, including those providing internet services, must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
While a number of legitimate registered pharmacies provide online pharmacy services, there are also a number of suppliers operating from websites offering to sell medicines who have no professional qualifications or healthcare expertise.
The GPhC provides an Internet Pharmacy Logo which will be seen on the front page of participating online pharmacy sites. This logo is designed to help the public to identify legitimate websites that are registered with the GPhC.
The logo will not only provide a visual means to help patients identify whether a website is connected to a registered pharmacy, but it will also provide a direct link to the GPhC website. By clicking on the logo, you can verify the registration details of the pharmacy behind the website.
Remember, only registered pharmacies that offer professional services via the internet can use the internet pharmacy logo.
Further information on the logo and its use can be found on the GPhC website here.
The logo for LloydsPharmacy, who dispense the prescriptions on behalf of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, can be found on the homepage. All GPhC logos display a green cross, with the words "Registered Pharmacy" and a 7-digit registration number.
By clicking on this logo, you will be taken to the LloydsPharmacy registration page at the General Pharmaceutical Council website.
Unregulated pharmaceutical websites
By law, all online prescription services should be registered as this ensures that only genuine medicines are supplied, accurate information is given and careful checks are carried out. However, this isn’t always the case.
Buying medicines from websites that are not connected to registered pharmacies can present a number of risks. There is no opportunity for an appropriately qualified health professional to assess whether the medicine is safe and appropriate for you to use, or to advise you on how the medication should be taken. This practice is dangerous, because only a doctor can reliably assess whether a prescription-only medicine is appropriate for a specific individual.
In addition, the safety and quality of medicines sold by unqualified internet suppliers cannot be guaranteed. Unregulated websites may supply fake medicines, which could contain inactive powder or might even be toxic.
A pharmacy offering to send out prescription-only medicine without requiring a doctor’s prescription may well be fraudulent.
Similarly, websites which are not regulated by the CQC may employ doctors who don’t make a proper assessment of each patient. Prescription-only medicines should only be prescribed to a patient after the doctor is confident that it’s in the patient’s best interest to receive it.
The director with overall clinical responsibility for Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor is Amanda Dorkes. Amanda Dorkes is a registered UK pharmacist and Clinical Director of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. She oversees our team of doctors who manage Online Doctor patients.
You can write to Amanda Dorkes at:
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor
50-54 Wigmore Street
Learn more about our doctors here.
Confidentiality and data protection
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor has a legal obligation to comply with UK Data Protection legislation. We are not allowed to pass patient information to third parties that are not involved in the services provided through this website without the patient's explicit permission.