New guidance from the General Medical Council (GMC), “Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices”, comes into effect.

Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices sets out the regulator’s standards for good practice when prescribing remotely and face to face, when prescribing unlicensed medicines, and for when patient care is shared with another doctor.

Key updates include:

  • new advice for doctors not to prescribe controlled drugs unless they have access to patient records, except in emergencies
  • stronger advice on information sharing, making it clear that if a patient refuses consent to share information with other relevant health professionals it may be unsafe to prescribe
  • alignment with the GMC’s updated Decision making and consent guidance, highlighting the importance of good two-way dialogue between patients and doctors in all settings.

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, said:

‘The pandemic has made remote consultations a new reality for many of us. The overwhelming majority of doctors provide excellent care, whether they see patients in person or remotely.

‘But, sadly, there are exceptions. Our guidance makes it clear to doctors that the same principles of good practice apply whether a consultation is face to face or online. And following these simple tips will help patients to stay safe when accessing care online.’

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