Falsely claiming to be registered erodes public trust in health practitioners, says Pharmacy Board
A New South Wales pharmacist who continued to practise after his registration was suspended has been convicted and fined a total of $38,000 following charges filed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).
In May 2019, Albert Young’s registration was suspended by the Pharmacy Council of NSW after receiving allegations about fraudulent activity.
However, he reportedly continued to work as a locum pharmacist at a Penrith pharmacy while unregistered.
Suspended practitioners cannot practise or hold themselves out as being registered, Ahpra pointed out.
His employer terminated his employment when alerted by the Pharmacy Council of NSW that he was not registered.
Mr Young told the Health Care Complaints Commission that he had made the “extremely irresponsible and reprehensible decision” to keep working at the pharmacy due to the shock of the suspension, as well as to ease the stress of his pregnant wife and upcoming financial strain.
On 21 April, Mr Young pleaded guilty and was sentenced at the Local Court of New South Wales for 19 charges of holding himself out as a pharmacist in breach of the National Law.
Magistrate Swaine imposed a fine of $2,000 per charge and ordered Mr Young to pay Ahpra’s legal costs in the amount of $2,500 and the court’s costs of $3,230.
According to Ahpra, Magistrate Swaine commented that Mr Young’s conduct was “unethical, dishonest and Mr Young knew it … pharmacists are held in high regard by the community and are expected to be honest”, and that Mr Young “is to be held accountable for his actions”.
Mr Young’s registration was cancelled on 27 November 2020 following a finding of professional misconduct, with a non-review period of four years.
“Our core role is public safety. Any practitioner who continues to practise when their registration is suspended is breaking the law and violating the public’s trust. We will not hesitate to prosecute such individuals,” said Ahpra CEO, Martin Fletcher.
“Falsely claiming to be registered erodes public trust in health practitioners,” added Pharmacy Board of Australia Chair, Brett Simmonds.
“This outcome is welcome, and we hope it sends a strong message of deterrence to others.”