Finding a locum can be difficult at short notice – but this former pharmacist’s solution resulted in registration cancellation and a fine
On 6 January 2015, officers of the Department of Health noticed the former pharmacist working behind a counter on which there was a sign stating “Pharmacist on Duty” and his name.
But the man was not currently a registered pharmacist, as his registration had already been suspended earlier.
According to the Pharmacy Board of Australia, the former pharmacist admitted to the Department of Health officers that he knew his registration had been suspended and that he should not have been working.
He explained that if he didn’t work that day, the pharmacy would not have been able to open.
As the proprietor of the pharmacy, he had put into place arrangements for locum pharmacists to work at the store after his registration was suspended.
But on that day, one of these locums did not show up to work, and didn’t give notice – and the other locum wasn’t available to work.
So the former pharmacist worked as the sole pharmacist on duty at the store as though he was a registered pharmacist, and personally dispensed prescription medication to customers.
He conceded that his decision to work as the pharmacist was an “error of judgement”.
His registration was suspended by immediate action by the Pharmacy Board of Australia and subsequently cancelled by the WA State Administrative Tribunal, after he was found guilty of professional misconduct.
The former pharmacist pleaded guilty to one count of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist while being suspended under the National Law.
He was also disqualified from applying for registration as a pharmacist for a period of one year.
The court found that the offending was not trivial and imposed a fine of $4000, as well as awarding costs to the prosecution of $5000.
The former pharmacist was granted a spent conviction and so not named.
The Pharmacy Board warned consumers to make sure that any health practitioner they see is registered.
“It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. pharmacist). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA,” it says.
“The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles.
“The law allows for penalties for using protected titles or holding out as a registered practitioner when not entitled to. The maximum penalty which a court may impose is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
“Anyone receiving treatment from a person who is claiming to be registered when they are not is a cause for concern.”
The Board previously reminded pharmacists to renew their registration by 30 November.