A British pharmacist has been struck off after stealing nearly £11,000 (AUD$17,865) from his workplace and attempting to conceal the theft using invoices from a nearby GP surgery
A committee of the General Pharmaceutical Council found that Kuldip Singh Chana’s fitness to practise as a pharmacist was impaired after he removed the sum of £10,899.55 from the Westlake Pharmacy in Greenford, West London.
Mr Chana was the full-time pharmacy manager between November 2005 and December 2013 when he was replaced by another pharmacist, though he continued to work at the pharmacy two days a week.
When his successor, Kishore Mandava, received an order and then a cheque from the Elm Tree Surgery and was unsure of the process for handling it, he and the pharmacy’s accountant inspected the Elm Tree’s history with the pharmacy in closer detail… and Mr Chana’s deception came to light, the GPhC heard.
“This research revealed that between December 2009 and October 2013 the surgery had received a total of 46 invoices from the pharmacy, numbered sequentially from 9 to 54,” the GPhC noted.
“The surgery had paid a total of £10,941.19, which had been billed for in this way by means of twelve separate cheques, payable to the pharmacy and written between February 2010 and November 2013.
“However, only one of these cheques had been recorded in the pharmacy’s daily and monthly cash sheets, although they had all been banked in the pharmacy’s bank account.
“There was no discrepancy between the balance in the pharmacy’s bank account and the amount suggested by the cash sheets. [Accountant] Mr Anand therefore concluded that an amount of cash equal to the value of the unrecorded cheques must have been removed from the pharmacy’s takings before they were banked.”
In a subsequent meeting with Mr Anand and the pharmacy’s superintendent, Mr Chana demonstrated that he had “a good understanding of how to handle incoming payments”.
He was then asked about the Elm Tree Surgery cheques, but “explicitly” denied having supplied any stock to the surgery, or receiving any payments from it.
When shown the cash sheets and bank statements and asked to explain the discrepancies, Mr Chana at first did not provide an explanation, but then did so after another discussion with the superintendent.
“The registrant then wrote and signed a short statement saying that ‘the cheques in question were cashed by me prior to banking’. He signed another statement in which he admitted to and apologised for the “mistake” and said he was willing to pay back the money.
The GPhC found the allegation proved in its entirety. Mr Chana has since repaid the money.
However, it found that the “experienced and respected” pharmacy manager had engaged in serious misconduct, both in the exercise of professional practice, and also “conduct of a morally culpable kind which, wherever it took place, would bring disgrace on a pharmacist and thereby prejudice the reputation of the profession”.
The Fitness to Practise Committee directed that Mr Chana’s name should be removed from the register.