Remote consultation and prescribing principles reinforced

The expectations that the General Optical Council (GOC) has of optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses in the area of remote prescribing have been reinforced in a new set of jointly-agreed ‘high level principles’.

The ‘High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing‘, released today (8 November) by healthcare organisations including regulators, royal colleges and faculties, set out the good practice expected of healthcare professionals when prescribing medication online. They have been issued, stated the GOC, to help protect patient safety and welfare when accessing potentially-harmful medication online or over the phone.

The 10 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, optometrists and dispensing 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: the 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.

Lesley Longstone, GOC chief executive, said: “The optical sector, like other healthcare sectors, is changing in terms of how care is delivered, and it is important that we respond accordingly, whilst ensuring that patient safety and welfare is put first. Remote prescribing is on the increase and these high level principles, developed in collaboration with other Healthcare organisations, reinforce the expectations we have of optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses within this area.

“The principles will encourage best practice and ensure our Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and the Standards for Optical Businesses are upheld in order to ensure we are continually promoting and protecting the health and safety of the public.”

Read the principles on the GOC Standards website here.