Suspended pharmacist just kept working

legal law case justice crime

A pharmacist who kept opening and operating a pharmacy alone – after he was suspended – has been fined $24,500

A NSW Court has convicted the suspended pharmacist, David Le, of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist, after AHPRA filed charges against him.

On 7 August 2017, the Pharmacy Council of NSW imposed an interim suspension on Mr Le’s registration, after it decided a suspension was appropriate for the protection of the health or safety of the public or was otherwise in the public interest.

According to the AHPRA charges, Mr Le continued to open and operate Sydney City Pharmacy alone anyway, without a registered pharmacist on duty.

On 7 March 2019, Mr Le pleaded guilty to holding himself out as a registered pharmacist, when he was not.

On 27 March 2019, Magistrate Still, in the Local Court, convicted Mr Le and imposed an aggregate fine of $24,500. He was ordered to pay legal costs to AHPRA of $15,000.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the court outcome demonstrates AHPRA’s work is helping to protect health consumers across Australia.

“When a pharmacist is suspended by a regulatory body, it is to protect the public,” he said.

“To flout that decision and continue to practise as a registered pharmacist when suspended, amounts to a serious risk to the safety and health of the public.”

He told consumers that they should check the national online register of practitioners to ensure that when they visit a health professional, that health professional is actually registered to work in that capacity; and that if they have a concern, to contact AHPRA.

Pharmacy Board of Australia Chair Brett Simmonds said the conviction sends a strong message to anyone who fails to follow the decisions of the regulators by practising as a pharmacist while suspended.

“AHPRA, the Council and the Board work together to protect the public by acting against anyone who claims to be a registered pharmacist when they are not.

“Suspended pharmacists that flout the law will be held to account,” he said.

Council President Stuart Ludington said that the outcome in this case is a reminder to pharmacists of the importance of ethical conduct and the need to comply with any imposed practice restrictions.

“At all times we must display integrity, trustworthiness and a standard of behaviour that warrants the trust and respect of the community. Holding out as a pharmacist goes against all these expected principles.”

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) has been passed by the Queensland Parliament. The amendments include an increase in penalties and the introduction of custodial sentences for some offences under the National Law, including where a person holds themselves out to be a registered health practitioner when they are not.

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