Online Suffolk prescriptions service rated ‘good’ and taken out of special measures

PrivateDoc co-founder and managing director Paul Marshall Picture: PrivateDoc

PrivateDoc co-founder and managing director Paul Marshall Picture: PrivateDoc - Credit: Archant

Directors of Suffolk-based prescriptions website PrivateDoc are delighted after the service was taken out of special measures and rated as “good” by health inspectors.

PrivateDoc has been rated good by CQC in its latest inspection Picture: PRIVATEDOC

PrivateDoc has been rated good by CQC in its latest inspection Picture: PRIVATEDOC - Credit: PrivateDoc has been rated good by CQC in its latest inspection Picture: PRIVATEDOC

The turnaround comes less than a year after regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had warned the company, based in Stowmarket, could have to close.

The service has now been rated as “good” in all five key areas - meaning it is “safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led”.

The inspectors’ report praised the quality of caring, saying: “Team members treated patients with kindness and respect and involved them in decisions about their care.”

It added the service was rated as “excellent” in 95% of 2,886 online reviews, with an average rating of 4.9 out of five stars.

MORE: Large care home lifted out of special measuresPrivateDoc, set up in 2012, allows patients to request prescriptions online by filling in a consultation form. These are reviewed by a GP, and a private prescription is issued if appropriate, before being sent to an affiliated pharmacy.

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The online clinic had been put in special measures in July 2019, after CQC experts found the process for completing patient identification checks was ineffective.

Flaws in the provider’s system also allowed people requesting weight loss medicines to overwrite information such as their height, weight and body mass index.

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Following another inspection in February, chief inspector Dr Rosie Benneyworth warned insufficient improvements had been made and the CQC started taking action which could have led to closure.

However, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CQC withdrew its proposal to cancel the registration and instead kept the website under review until it could carry out its latest inspection in October.

The inspectors’ latest report noted a whole raft of improvements, including improved identification checks, such as anti money-laundering checks and development of facial recognition technology.

The CQC also said patient records and contacts were always completed and recorded, and there were improved processes to deal with emergency medical situations.

Managing director Paul Marshall said: “I am very pleased indeed. This has been a long process and we are very pleased to be coming out of special measures and to be recognised as good.

“I’m pleased the inspectors have recognised the amount of work that we have put in.”

He added PrivateDoc had worked closely with the CQC to put things right after being pulled up over “a small handful of cases”.

Mr Marshall said the company had improved its systems with new software and quality improvement action systems.

Although it received very few complaints, it had overhauled the system for dealing with these to ensure that all possible lessons were learned.

Looking to the future, he said PrivateDoc would continue to improve. “We are going to expand the scope of the service, and we are looking at introducing face-to-face consultations with doctors online.”

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