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Boots Online Doctor pharmacy fails GPhC inspection over website concerns


Boots Online Doctor pharmacy fails GPhC inspection over website concerns

The GPhC recently said the Boots Online Doctor service had to update its website to stop allowing patients to choose their preferred medicines for contraception or erectile dysfunction before having a consultation with a prescriber.

A report published last Thursday (January 5) sets out the findings from a GPhC inspection of a Boots pharmacy based at the company’s Nottingham headquarters that is responsible for dispensing private prescriptions for the Boots Online Doctor service, which is regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

The inspection, which took place on November 25, found that while the pharmacy met the majority of the regulator’s 26 standards for registered pharmacies, it did not meet standard 3.1, which states that premises should be “safe, clean, properly maintained and suitable for the pharmacy services provided”.  

The inspector’s report says that the pharmacy is generally well run, and that it “identifies and manages most risks associated with its services,” has an effective team and makes “meaningful interventions about the suitability of prescribed medicines”.

But while the Online Doctor website was “professionally laid out,” the inspector found that the webpages for the contraception and erectile dysfunction services “were set out differently to other conditions” and allowed patients “to start the consultation process from their preferred medicine”.

“Proceeding with the consultation in this way meant people were selecting a medicine prior to the consultation process and this was not in line with GPhC guidance,” said the inspector.

The GPhC gave the pharmacy an improvement action plan stating that the service must “remove the ‘get started’ option from the individual product boxes on website pages for the erectile dysfunction and contraceptive pill services” by January 25.

Boots notified the GPhC on January 9 that the required improvements had been made.

The regulator has been cracking down on online pharmacies in recent years, revealing in August last year that they accounted for 30 per cent of all open fitness to practice cases, “a disproportionate amount compared to other pharmacy service providers”.

The ways in which pharmacy websites allow customers to select treatment options has been one of the key focus points for the GPhC.

A Boots spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News: “Patients who receive a prescription through our Boots Online Doctor service can collect their medication from one of our pharmacies or choose home delivery.

“When patients choose home delivery, their prescription medicines are dispensed by our central support pharmacy in Nottingham.

“This pharmacy was recently inspected by the GPhC, who were satisfied with the majority of the professional standards that we are required to meet.

“We welcomed their feedback that for two out of over 40 services, one step in the online patient prescribing journey required a change in sequencing and have taken the steps to address this.”

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