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Response to BBC allegations on online antibiotic prescribing

Web News

02 Oct 2016

GMC to investigate doctors involved in inappropriate prescribing

'The doctor’s obligations to patients and their safety does not change because the consultation is online

Niall Dickson, GMC Chief Executive

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the GMC, said:

‘Online prescribing is part of a rapidly changing environment and it will have a place in future healthcare delivery. But the doctor’s obligations to patients and their safety does not change because the consultation is online. Our prescribing guidance makes it absolutely clear that doctors may prescribe only when they have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health, and are satisfied that the medicines serve the patient’s needs. The guidance also makes it clear that they should take account of clinical guidelines published by established organisations with appropriate expertise, such as NICE.

‘The GMC is responsible for regulating individual doctors and we will take action where we believe they are putting patients at risk. To do this we also work closely with the other regulators who are responsible for investigating companies and practices, sharing information where we believe standards are not being met.

‘Overprescribing of antibiotics risks the health of us all, and it is important that every practising doctor in the UK reflects on current guidance. Although we cannot comment on specific investigations, the BBC has produced serious allegations and we will be looking into them carefully. Of course the law requires us to consider each case on its merits, but doctors who pose a risk to patients can, and do, face sanctions for mis-prescribing.’


Notes to editors

The General Medical Council (GMC) is an independent organisation that helps to protect patients and improve medical education and practice across the UK.

  • We decide which doctors are qualified to work here and we oversee UK medical education and training.
  • We set the standards that doctors need to follow, and make sure that they continue to meet these standards throughout their careers.
  • We take action when we believe a doctor may be putting the safety of patients, or the public's confidence in doctors, at risk.

We are not here to protect doctors - their interests are protected by others. Our job is to protect the public.

We are independent of government and the medical profession and accountable to Parliament. Our powers are given to us by Parliament through the Medical Act 1983.

We are a registered charity (number 1089278 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and number SC037750 with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator), we have to show that our aims are for public benefit.

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