Healthwatch Hillingdon learnt from some of our residents that certain restricted, prescribed medicines were being supplied by some online UK-based suppliers to patients without adequate checks and appropriate safeguards being in place. Therefore, in July 2016, Healthwatch Hillingdon raised our concerns around online suppliers by writing to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Healthwatch England. We also reported our findings to the London Borough of Hillingdon’s Health & Wellbeing Board. We are encouraged by the positive response we received from the MHRA to our concerns.
Therefore, we also welcome today’s announcement by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that they are bringing forward their inspection of CQC-registered online services. We also strongly endorse the advice the CQC has produced so that patients and the public are able to make safer, informed choices on how they obtain their medicines http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/choosing-online-healthcare-service. We do need to bear in mind that only certain online services located in England are required to be registered with the CQC. Therefore, it is vital that the public take proactive steps to make sure that they follow the CQC’s advice or speak to their local pharmacist and check the physical location of any online healthcare service that they are considering to use for prescribed medicines. There is still more to be done with regards to medicines ordered from off-shore online suppliers, but we are encouraged that the statutory bodies responsible recognise this challenge and are taking further action to protect the public from potentially unsafe and dangerous practices.
If you have experiences or concerns about online healthcare services then please contact Healthwatch Hillingdon: 01895 272997; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the CQC on: 03000 61616.