Principles for good practice issued to protect patients online

Healthcare organisations including regulators, royal colleges and faculties, are today Friday 8 November issuing a set of principles to help protect patient safety and welfare when accessing potentially-harmful medication online or over the phone.

The jointly-agreed High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing set out the good practice expected of healthcare professionals when prescribing medication online.

The ten principles underpinned by existing standards and guidance, include that healthcare professionals are expected to:

  • Understand how to identify vulnerable patients and take appropriate steps to protect them
  • Carry out clinical assessments and medical record checks to ensure medication is safe and appropriate
  • Raise concerns when adequate patient safeguards aren’t in place.

These principles apply to all healthcare professionals involved in providing consultations and medication to patients remotely, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists and dispensing opticians.

The publication follows the release, in September, of a joint statement by healthcare regulators, which included a commitment to work together and with partner organisations to develop shared principles on remote consultations and prescribing.

The principles have been co-authored and agreed by:

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Care Quality Commission. Faculty of Pain Medicine, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

Lesley Longstone, Chief Executive of the GOC, said:

"The optical sector, like other healthcare sectors, is changing in terms of how care is delivered, and it is important that we respond accordingly, whilst ensuring that patient safety and welfare is put first.

Remote prescribing is on the increase and these high level principles, developed in collaboration with other Healthcare organisations, reinforce the expectations we have of optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical businesses within this area. 

The principles will encourage best practice and ensure our Standards for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians and the Standards for Optical Businesses are upheld in order to ensure we are continually promoting and protecting the health and safety of the public."


For further information please contact:

Communications Team

General Optical Council

t: 020 7307 3478 – option 3



  1. The GOC Standards for Optical Businesses define the standards that we expect of optical businesses to protect the public and promote high standards of care:
  2. The GOC Standards of Practice define the standards of behaviour and performance we expect of all registered optometrists and dispensing opticians:

About the General Optical Council:

The GOC is the regulator for the optical professions in the UK. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting high standards of education, conduct and performance amongst opticians. The Council currently registers over 30,000 optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical businesses.