• Babylon withdraws judicial review against CQC report
  • Digital health provider must pay £11,000 in costs to regulator

Digital health provider Babylon Health Services has withdrawn a legal challenge against a Care Quality Commission report and will have to pay £11,000 in costs to the regulator.

At the CQC’s board meeting on Tuesday, head of legal services Rebecca Lloyd-Jones confirmed Babylon had withdrawn its application for a judicial review in the High Court.

“I am pleased to say that Babylon had withdrawn their application, which brings those legal proceeding to a conclusion,” Ms Lloyd-Jones said.

In a consent order at the High Court, dated Friday 15 December, both parties said the claim would be withdrawn, and that Babylon would pay the CQC £11,000 in costs.

It comes after Babylon applied to the court for both an injunction and judicial review in relation a CQC report that included criticism of its digital health services.

Babylon provides an app for video GP consultations for private patients, but also for growing numbers of NHS patients through contracts with GP practices and other partnerships.

It was founded by former Circle chief executive Ali Parsa.

During a hearing on 8 December, a judge lifted any restrictions on publication of the CQC report but granted permission for Babylon to proceed with its review application on a limited basis. But Ms Lloyd-Jones told the CQC board meeting that, in granting the application, the judge had commented that he hoped the case would not proceed.

Ms Lloyd-Jones told the CQC board that “in publishing that report we made no change to the substance of inspection finding of judgements”.

Following the publication of the report on 8 December, Babylon said it was “disappointed that the CQC’s inspection report contains many inaccuracies”.

The company also said: “As a leader in digital healthcare, we feel we have a duty to point out the shortcomings of the regulator in this area and take the necessary steps to address that, in a hope to promote change, which is essential to ensuring that the UK promotes innovation.” It said that overall the CQC’s findings about its service were not particularly critical.

Babylon did not respond to request for additional comment on Wednesday as to why it had not proceeded with its judicial review. A spokesman referred HSJ to the company’s previous statement.

The CQC report on Babylon said that: “In some areas, this service was not providing safe care in accordance with the relevant regulations.” It also found the service was not effective in one area, but said that, overall, it was responsive, caring and well led.

Specifically, the report found that in 12 cases of prescribing checked by inspectors, a Babylon GP had not adhered to the company’s policy on checking a patient’s identity.

GPs also prescribed medication outside “of their licensed indications”, the CQC said.

“This is higher risk because less information is available to show the benefits of the medicine for an unlicensed condition and less is known about the potential risks,” the report added.

There were also concerns about the prescription of medicine for patients with long term health conditions, the report said.

This is the second CQC report published on Babylon with the first in October last year, finding it was compliant with the relevant regulations.