New GMC advice on remote scrips

By Douglas Shepherd

Updated GMC prescribing guidance, effective from 5 April, aims to support doctors who are increasingly seeing patients via remote and virtual consultations. 

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.

It also covers when prescribing unlicensed medicines and for when patient care is shared with another doctor. 

The guidance makes clear that the same standards remain when prescribing remotely as they do when seeing a patient face to face, such as being satisfied that an adequate assessment has been made, establishing a dialogue and obtaining the patient’s consent. 

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. 

Prof Colin Melville

Specific advice is also given for doctors prescribing remotely for patients overseas and those in nursing homes or hospices.

GMC medical director Prof Colin Melville called remote medicine ‘a new reality’, adding: ‘It’s vital that the principles of good practice apply, whether a consultation is face to face or remote.’

Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices is available online.