16 Nov 2017
A former Western Australian pharmacist who practised the profession when his registration had been suspended has been fined for holding out as a registered health practitioner.
On 3 December 2015, following an inspection by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), charges were laid in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.
The former pharmacist pleaded guilty to one count of holding himself out as a registered pharmacist while being suspended under the National Law1. The individual accepted that he was the proprietor and responsible pharmacist of a pharmacy in WA. He admitted that he worked as the sole pharmacist on duty at the pharmacy as though he was a registered pharmacist, and personally dispensed prescription medication to customers.
At the time of the offending, the former pharmacist’s registration was suspended by immediate action by the Pharmacy Board of Australia. His registration was subsequently cancelled by the WA State Administrative Tribunal after he was found guilty of professional misconduct. He was also disqualified from applying for registration as a pharmacist for a period of one year.
On 6 January 2015, the former pharmacist was observed by officers of the Department of Health working behind a counter on which there was a sign stating ‘Pharmacist on Duty’, which also displayed his name. He admitted to the officers of the Department of Health that he knew his registration as a pharmacist was suspended, and that he should not have been working. He also stated that, if he didn’t work that day, the pharmacy would not have been able to open.
The former pharmacist submitted that he had put in place arrangements for locum pharmacists to work at the pharmacy after the suspension of his registration, but that on 6 January 2015, without notice, one of his locum pharmacists did not attend for work and the other locum pharmacist was not available to work. The former pharmacist conceded that his decision to work as the pharmacist on duty was an error of judgment.
The court was of the view that the offending was not trivial, imposed a fine of $4,000, and awarded costs to the prosecution in the amount of $5,000.
The individual was granted a spent conviction and is therefore not named.
Make sure you are seeing a registered health practitioner
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.
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).
It is important that you ensure that the practitioner you are seeing is appropriately registered. Anyone receiving treatment from a person who is claiming to be registered when they are not is a cause for concern. Remember to check the Register of practitioners or you can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.
Heath practitioners: Check your registration
You can check your registration details on the register of practitioners.
AHPRA will send email renewal reminders to all health practitioners on behalf of the National Boards. Look out for these reminders as confirmation that online renewal is open.
Read these quick tips for easy online renewal of your registration: Tips for renewing online.
1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.