• CQC inspectors raised concerns over Push Doctor system which allows parents to stop consultations from being shared with a child’s GP
  • Bosses suspended appointments for under 18s so changes could be made to the system, and they remain suspended
  • Service rated as “good” overall

An online GP provider suspended appointments for under 18s after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns over the sharing of data, the regulator has revealed, but the provider was rated “good” overall.

Inspectors were concerned that parents using the Push Doctor app could prevent consultations from being shared with their child’s NHS GP, according to a CQC report.

In May HSJ reported that Push Doctor had suspended all children’s appointments so changes could be made to the way children access the service. The reasons for the change were not clear at the time.

The digital primary care provider offers pay-as-you-go consultations and works with a number of organisations providing NHS-funded care, most notably the Modality GP Partnership, which covers 400,000 patients in the West Midlands.

Following an inspection in May, the CQC rated the service as “good” overall and outstanding for “well led”.

However inspectors warned of the “potential risks” of allowing parents to withhold their children’s consultations from their GP – prompting them to suspend under 18s appointments “within 48 hours” of the conversation, so changes could be made. No formal “warning notice” was issued by the CQC. 

The CQC report said that for children’s appointments: ”We noted that parents using the Push Dr service did have the right to refuse the sharing of the consultation (GP Share) with the child’s NHS GP. In these situations, Push Dr’s policy was not to prescribe for the child or young person.

“Following discussion with Push Dr about the potential risks of not sharing information with a child’s NHS GP they implemented within 48 hours a complete stop on all consultations with children until their electronic system and platform was amended to ensure GP Share for consultations with children was always enabled.

“In addition, Push Dr confirmed they would undertake a retrospective review of all consultations with children who had accessed the service five times or more to mitigate any potential risks to that child. The Push Dr website was updated to reflect this change and it provided clear concise information explaining why and what they were changing.”

Details of the “risks” or the scale of information not shared under the previous arrangements were not detailed in the report.

A Push Doctor spokesman confirmed all under 18s appointments are still suspended.

Push Doctor has made improvements since its last inspection in 2017 – when inspectors found it was not providing a safe, well led or effective service.

The service has now been rated as “good” across the safe, effective, caring and responsive categories, “outstanding” for the well-led category.

Inspectors noted the “culture of the services was underpinned by patient safety first” and praised the leadership team for “investing in staff training and development and encouraging team work and innovation”.

CEO of Push Doctor, Wais Shaifta, said: “We are really pleased with this report, as it is recognition of all the hard work we have put in to deliver a high quality service for our patients. I’m very proud of everyone at Push Doctor.

“I am particularly pleased the CQC have acknowledged our commitment to work in partnership with the NHS to deliver outstanding care, backed by our ‘patient safety first’ ethos.”

Updated on 1 July to ensure it is clear that no formal CQC “warning notice” was issued, ensure the findings of the inspectors are clear, ensure the overall rating is clear, and state that in May it was not clear why the restriction had been placed on child appointments.