Kuldip Singh Chana (registration number 2022811) was working as a pharmacy manager at Westlake Pharmacy in Greenford, west London between 2010 and 2014, during which time he stole “approximately £10,899.55 in cash”, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise-committee concluded in a hearing on January 12.
The GPhC noted Mr Chana was an “experienced and respected pharmacy manager” who had since repaid the money in full.
But it stressed that he had “maintained his deception right up to” when he was confronted with the evidence, and “only owned up and made restitution when there was no other alternative”.
Uncovering the "paper trail"
In 2014, an investigation by the pharmacy’s head office assistant accountant revealed that a nearby GP surgery had received 46 invoices from the pharmacy for “goods” sold to it, and billed through 12 separate cheques.
Only one of these cheques had been recorded in the pharmacy’s daily and monthly cash sheets, which had been overseen by Mr Chana, although all the cheques had been paid into the pharmacy’s bank account, the GPhC heard.
The accountant concluded that “an amount of cash equal to the value of the unrecorded cheques must have been removed from the pharmacy’s takings before they were banked”, the regulator heard.
Mr Chana was called into a meeting with the pharmacy’s accountant and superintendent, where he “explicitly denied that he had supplied any stock to – or received any payments from – the surgery”, the GPhC heard.
However, after being shown the pharmacy’s cash sheets and bank statements, and following a private discussion with the superintendent, he agreed to sign a statement saying he “admit[ted] to the mistake and apologise[d] for it”, and would pay the money back in instalments.
The GPhC noted that Mr Chana went on to repay the full £10,899.55, partly in the form of locum fees owed to him by the pharmacy.
GPhC’s "unavoidable conclusion"
The regulator concluded there was “a clear paper trail” which led to the “unavoidable conclusion” that Mr Chana took cash from the pharmacy.
Mr Chana had since retired from working as a pharmacist “for health reasons”, but his application for voluntary removal from the register had been rejected due to the ongoing fitness-to-practise proceedings, it pointed out.
The GPhC noted that “to his credit”, Mr Chana had made “some admissions to his former employer”. “He has repaid the money in full and has expressed some regret for his actions,” it added.
But the regulator said it had “no doubt other pharmacists and the public generally would find it deplorable for a pharmacist to take over £10,000 from the safe for his own purposes”, and ruled to strike him off the register.
Read the full determination here.