13 Apr 2017
A former pharmacist in Western Australia has been convicted of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist while not being registered under the National Law1.
Mr Brian Geoffrey Donegan was sentenced at Geraldton Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to seven charges. The charges, which were brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), relate to holding himself out, and claiming to be a registered pharmacist while not being registered, and on two occasions using the protected title ‘pharmacist’ while not being registered to do so under the National Law.
Mr Donegan admitted to working as the sole pharmacist on duty at Northampton Pharmacy between October 2015 and June 2016. In this period, he admitted to dispensing both Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines to patients while not holding registration as a pharmacist.
Mr Donegan admitted that on two separate occasions, he used the protected title ‘pharmacist’ by allowing his name to be displayed on a ‘pharmacist on duty’ sign. Mr Donegan also admitted to submitting, to the owner of Northampton Pharmacy, a fraudulent certificate of registration stating that he held unrestricted registration at the relevant time.
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 falsely using protected titles or holding out to be a registered practitioner. 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).
The court ordered Mr Donegan to a pay a fine of $10,000 and costs to AHPRA in the amount of $1,085. The court refused an application by Mr Donegan for spent conviction orders2.
All registered health practitioners appear on the national register of practitioners, which is a searchable list accessible on the AHPRA website. If a person does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in a regulated health profession in Australia.
1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
2A spent conviction is a criminal conviction that is treated as though a formal conviction was not recorded by a court.