Boots pharmacist ‘a mess’ over MURs

A British pharmacist has been struck off the register after failing to complete paperwork for as many as 138 medicines reviews while he worked for Boots

Adam Hamer’s case was reviewed by Britain’s General Pharmaceutical Council at a Fitness to Practice Committee hearing during a second review of his suspension over the MUR.

Because he neither attended the hearing nor engaged with the Council over his suspension, he was struck from the register.

Mr Hamer was working as a full-time pharmacist at Boots’ Stafford branch in 2013, when concerns began to be raised about dispensing errors and incomplete paperwork.

A part-time colleague flagged issues with the way Mr Hamer was processing Medicine Use Reviews: his manager investigated and found 59 MURs had been processed for payment without patient consent forms, and with minimal details. Thus the MURs were ineligible for payment.

A Boots investigator then discovered that while there were 346 MUR forms recorded on the system up to February 2013, only 208 were to be found in the store.

MURs were the source of controversy in April 2016 when a Guardian article by reporter Aditya Chakrabortty alleged that Boots stores were using the cap of 400 MURs per pharmacy per year as a target to strive for.

Mr Chakrabortty alleged that Boots management was pressuring its pharmacists to offer patients the reviews including in cases where they were not needed or useful.

At a disciplinary hearing at Boots on 15 March 2013, Mr Hamer said that “he had felt under pressure to deliver the MURs, had gotten into ‘a mess’ over them and had not asked for support/raised the issue; in addition, he had recently moved away from home and found the process quite lonely and isolating,” the General Pharmaceutical Council noted.

He later told the GPhC that he was suffering from depression and “unable to handle the pressures” of his job, and that he accepted he had acted inappropriately and was ashamed of his actions.

But the GPhC did not accept this reasoning when it examined his case in 2015.

At the 2015 hearing, two dispensing errors – 120mg tablets of dihydrocodeine instead of 60mg, and 25mcgs of Levothyroxine instead of 100mcgs – were not found to constitute misconduct, but GPhC decided concerns over the MURs warranted a nine-month suspension.

“The Committee stated that although these were not matters which put patients at risk, and they had nothing to do with the Registrant’s competence as a pharmacist, it was inevitable that the Registrant had, through his conduct, brought the profession into disrepute, breached a fundamental tenet of acting honestly at all times, and shown, unfortunately, that his integrity could no longer be relied upon,” the GPhC noted.

Mr Hamer did not appear at a 2016 review of his suspension and was again suspended, as there was no evidence he was complying with his Suspension Order.

In September 2017 Mr Hamer again failed to appear at his suspension review or to have demonstrated engagement with the GPhC, which decided to strike him from the register.

“In a case where the Registrant has failed to take any steps towards remediation or engage with his regulator, a further period of suspension is not, on our view, sufficient to address the public interest and maintain proper professional standards,” it noted.

“The Committee therefore rules that the only sanction which is appropriate here is removal from the register.”

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  1. pagophilus

    I’m glad the Brits have the sense to punish bad behaviour. In Australia you’d get a slap on the wrist for much worse behaviour. Reading reports of pharmacists suspended or otherwise penalised in Australia makes one wonder to what extreme you have to go to get struck off in this country?

    • Expat In Blighty

      Can’t comment on what’s going on in Oz but please bare in mind that the pharmacist in question was hounded by area managers for the MURS multiple times a day and had absolutely no personal financial gain from it. Most UK pharmacists have been a victim of bullying to hit targets and amazingly one company always seems to end up in the headlines (with the pharmacist’s head on the chopping block rather than the company being sanctioned, of course). Obviously a coincidence and has nothing to do with that company’s love of money over morals. Don’t take my word for it…30 readers comments echo similar thoughts.

      • pagophilus

        In Australia you can have people stealing S4’s, S11’s, shooting up steroids, and they may get a few months suspension.

        • karina

          In Australia they allow junkies to keep their registration and suppress their identity so we cant avoid them.

      • pagophilus

        I also read the BMJ and doctors seem to get struck off for misdemeanours which may not even make the news here.

  2. Big Pharma

    Sounds familiar…..CWH medscheck rort anyone? No punishment despite leaked in-house directives to pump the medscheck accelerator.

    If only there was a collaborative, auditable, clinically accountable service available……OH WAIT THERE IS!!

  3. Gavin Mingay

    This sounds all too relevant to current business practices in Australia…. 🙁

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