A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


GP Clinical Director Dr Daniel
The offices was launched in 2015 with a simple mission
to provide patients with a safe and convenient means
of accessing prescription treatment online. It is now
broadening its offering in order to enable patients to access
a wider range of digital health services more conveniently.
Founder and GP Clinical Director Dr Daniel Atkinson tells
Parliamentary Review
more about how the business is helping
to move the health sector forward.
Most aspects of our lives are now run and managed online. Shopping, banking
and paying our bills are all matters we can handle from our smartphone. Hence,
the introduction of online GP and pharmacy services is a development many of us
might have expected; but it is one that presents a host of unique challenges for
providers. Patients using web-based or virtual services need to be confident that
they are receiving the same level of care that they would face-to-face, and for
this reason, the development and implementation of systems that facilitate best
practice is essential.
An interactive platform for patients and practitioners
A doctor consultation needs to be a tailored process. A patient presents their problem,
the GP asks questions, the patient provides answers, and together they reach
agreement about any further investigation or treatment which might be needed.
During the earlier stages of their evolution, many online doctor interfaces were
based on lifestyle treatments or straightforward prescription renewal. These mostly
comprised static questionnaire forms, where patients were able to give answers to
»Founder and CEO: Riaz Vali
»GP Clinical Director: Dr Daniel
»Launched in 2015
»Based in Bolton
»Services: Online doctor
consultation and prescription
service, with an owned
pharmacy fulfilling both
private and NHS prescriptions
»No. of employees: 45
Highlighting best practice
standalone binary or multiple-choice
questions. However, as patients seek
to consult online about more varied
problems, the need increases for a
detailed, personalised approach to
this process, which facilitates back-
and-forth interaction between doctor
We’ve endeavoured to lead the way
in making consulting online more
agile and interactive. We’ve done
this by developing our own content
management system, which enables
answer-dependent question routes,
and signposts a patient to relevant
services or information based on their
responses. This branching mechanism
helps a prescribing doctor to ensure
they get the information they need
to make a safe clinical decision, while
maintaining a smooth and accessible
experience for end users.
The rise to prominence of doctor
consultations through live video link
adds another dynamic dimension to
providing care online. Patients who
are not consulting about a particular
treatment, but who are seeking a
diagnosis for a new or developing
problem, can effectively start at square
one, by presenting their symptoms to a
doctor in a virtual face-to-facesetting.
Integration with testing
Doctor consultation and prescription
renewal are not the only solutions
patients seek online. Testing is
also a facility that many may find
inconvenient to attend in person, or
daunting to undertake in a clinical
setting. Sexually transmitted infections
have been increasing in recent years,
particularly among young adults. Not
everyone has access to testing services,
however, and this, along with the
associated stigma, presents challenges
in identifying infections and issuing
appropriate care.
The need for more convenient and
readily available testing is therefore
increasing. This is a need that services
such as ours have set out to meet,
through integration and partnership
with testing laboratories. Not only
does this enable patients to provide a
sample without attending a clinic in
person; it also ensures they can access
their result online in a timely fashion,
along with tailored advice on what to
do next should they require treatment.
Providing convenient
access to safe and
reliable care online
to lead the
way in making
online more
agile and
This remote testing process is not
limited to screening for infections. It
also creates an opportunity for patients
living with chronic conditions, or
taking long-term treatment, to have
their progress monitored through
sample analysis. This enables a doctor
practising online to assess and, where
necessary, adjust a patient’s ongoing
treatment plan.
Promoting healthy lifestyles
and shared decision-making
Many patients develop a bond of
trust with their GP over a period of
several years. Their GPs know them,
their families, and their medical
history, and can tailor their advice to
each individual. A primary care GP
will monitor a patient’s progress and
explain the risks and benefits of several
treatment options by presenting them
in an accessible way.
We do not envisage that online GP
services will replace traditional GP
surgeries, nor should they aim to.
Because they endeavour to satisfy a
demand that in-person services may
not be able to meet, however, we
firmly believe that online services
should aspire to deliver the same level
of engagement and trust expected
from primary care.
With this in mind, the provision of
treatment online should not be a
simple one-time transaction. Patients
often need follow-up care and advice
once treatment has been offered, and
this is why signposting, onward referral
and information-sharing with the
patient and other healthcare providers
like their regular GP is so vital.
Essentially, patients approach a doctor
because they have a problem. Online
providers such as ours need to equip
patients with the tools to prevent
the problem or avoid encountering
it again. This applies to a patient’s
ongoing care plan too. It’s crucial for
patients accessing remote services to
feel as though they can engage and
openly discuss their concerns with
a GP and be involved in decisions
about their treatment. Particularly
in such scenarios, where more than
one practitioner is involved in a
patient’s condition management,
communication between online and
primary providers plays a critical role
in joined-up decision-making, and
continuity of care.
Cohesion in an evolving
Online healthcare is still in a state
of relative infancy and faces several
challenges. Providers such as ours
are developing new systems, with
regulation often coming later. And as
with any emerging market, providers
are keen to protect their commercial
interests, and are therefore hesitant to
share ideas and best practice.
We hope that the next natural step,
then, is for a common consensus to be
established. has recently
become part of a forum of digital
health providers who are working
closely with CQC to agree industry
standards in this developing area of
healthcare. We hope this will help
organisations across the industry to
better understand the practices they
should aspire to follow; and ultimately
it will be patients who benefit.
Online services
should aspire
to deliver the
same level of
and trust
expected from
primary care
Patient empowerment
is at the heart of our


This article was sponsored by The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster