Fraudulent Burnley pharmacist allowed back to work

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A pharmacist who stole thousands of pounds worth of prescriptions from a Burnley village chemist and fraudulently submitted them for another firm has been allowed back to work.

Imran Nazir (38), of Burnley, took dispensed prescriptions from the Village Pharmacy, Briercliffe, where he’d previously been working in order to help his new business earn £4,900.

Mr Nazir accepted a police caution for making a false representation in order to make a gain in 2012, and was suspended from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register last year.

But the GPhC’s disciplinary panel has now ruled that Mr Nazir can return to work as a pharmacist after a six-month ban from the profession, saying he has “learned his lesson”.

Chairman of a GPhC Fitness to Practise panel, Douglas Readings, said: “What Nazir did was effectively theft of prescriptions and fraud on the NHS Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA).”

Mr Nazir, who first registered as a pharmacist in 1998, had worked as a pharmacist at the Village Pharmacy, in Burnley Road, for six years before getting into trouble.

In December, 2010, he left and formed the Burnley Late Night Pharmacy with other pharmacists, making a “considerable investment” in the venture with his own money.

On his last visit to the Village Pharmacy, he “stole some prescriptions”, which had already been dispensed but not yet submitted for payment by the PPA – which regulates payments for drugs to pharmacies, Mr Readings said.

Mr Nazir endorsed the prescriptions in the name of the Burnley Late Night Pharmacy, meaning it received not only the cash for the prescriptions but also a bonus for dispensing a certain amount within the month.

It received about £2,100 for the subscriptions and an extra £2,800 for the bonus; Burnley Late Night Pharmacy was therefore wrongly paid a total of £4,900, the chairman said.

But the discrepancy came to light and the PPA recouped the cash from the Late Night Pharmacy – the firm having played no part in the wrongdoing – with Mr Nazir repaying the Village Pharmacy.

In a “frank” interview with police, he admitted what he’d done and agreed it was wrong. He insisted he had “acted on the spur of the moment”, before accepting a police caution on December 21, 2012, Mr Readings said.

A GPhC disciplinary panel found that Mr Nazir’s fitness to practise was “impaired” and suspended him from its register on June 15th, last year.

But Mr Nazir told the panel at a review hearing last month that the experience had “taught him many valuable lessons”.

He said he’d “used the incident with a positive attitude” and insisted he was a “better person from this unfortunate experience and gained valuable life lessons”.

“He says he is genuinely apologetic and regretful”, the chairman said.

Two pharmacists for whom Nazir has worked during his suspension as a dispensing assistant both provided the panel with good references.

“Remarkably, he remains on good terms with his former employers, and a director of the company owning the Village Pharmacy actually provided a character reference for Mr Nazir at the previous hearing,” Mr Readings added.

“The committee accepts that Mr Nazir is genuinely remorseful, has reflected fully on his previous behaviour, and it will not be repeated,” he said. “The interests of the public include an interest in retaining the services of a good community pharmacist for the benefit of the community.

“Balancing the public interest with the interest of Mr Nazir in being permitted to practise his profession, the Committee considers that the period of six months’ suspension is sufficient to mark the profession’s disapproval of Mr Nazir’s misconduct, and to maintain public confidence in the profession.