Former Boots pharmacist who submitted 138 incomplete MURs struck off

Adam Hamer, 2071449, said he was “unable to handle the pressures” of his role, the GPhC heard
Adam Hamer, 2071449, said he was “unable to handle the pressures” of his role, the GPhC heard

A former Boots pharmacist who submitted more than 100 incomplete medicines use reviews (MURs) has been struck off the register.

Adam Hamer, registration number 2071449, “failed to satisfactorily complete” 138 MURs, but submitted them anyway, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise committee noted at a hearing on September 1.

The GPhC heard that Mr Hamer – who did not attend the hearing – had claimed he suffered from depression and had been “unable to handle the pressures” of the job.

But it stressed his “failure to engage with the regulator” after having been suspended meant he “remains a risk to the reputation of the profession”.

Missing MUR forms

An investigation by Boots revealed that while working at a branch in the West Midlands from October 2011-March 2013, Mr Hamer had recorded 346 MURs, but only submitted 208 forms, the GPhC heard.

Mr Hamer was interviewed by Boots’ pharmacist development and deployment manager, who showed the registrant 37 MUR forms which did not contain any details of the patients’ medications. Mr Hamer said “he planned on writing them up later, as he could remember what had been agreed with patients in relation to medications”, the regulator heard.

However, after he viewed the 37 forms, he accepted “he could not recall what had been agreed” with these patients, the GPhC heard.

Mr Hamer admitted he did not complete all his MUR interviews in the consultation room, and said he was aware that Boots’ standard operating procedures require a written consent form to be completed for each MUR, the GPhC heard.

When asked about the missing forms, Mr Hamer said some of these were at his home, “but he did not think as many as 138”, it heard.

The Boots investigation into Mr Hamer also revealed the number of new medicine service reviews claimed for did not match the number of forms completed – “a discrepancy of 45”, the GPhC heard.

"Under pressure" to deliver MURs

The GPhC heard that during a Boots disciplinary hearing in March 2013, Mr Hamer explained he had “felt under pressure to deliver the MURs, had gotten into ‘a mess’ over them and had not asked for support”.

In addition, he said he had “recently moved away from home and found the process quite lonely and isolating”, the GPhC heard.

Mr Hamer was dismissed by Boots, and a year later wrote to the GPhC admitting the allegations and stressing that he had been suffering from “depression” and “unable to handle the pressures” of his job. Mr Hamer also stated he “acted in an inappropriate and irresponsible way, and [was] fully ashamed of [his] actions”.

"No evidence at all"

Mr Hamer was originally suspended from the register in 2015. At the time, the GPhC committee suggested evidence he could provide if he wanted his suspension lifted: a return-to-practise course; a statement of reflection; testimonials from colleagues; or details of his work since his dismissal.

A year later, the GPhC had received “no evidence from the registrant at all”, and ordered a further period of suspension for a year.

At Mr Hamer’s third hearing on September 1 this year, the regulator acknowledged that there was still “no actual evidence from the registrant”, as it had “received no correspondence” from him.

"Good character"

The lack of evidence provided for the second and third hearing meant there were “no mitigating factors” the GPhC could take into account, except that Mr Hamer was of “previous good character”, it said.

It stressed it had seen “nothing” to reassure it of Mr Hamer’s integrity after “almost two years”, indicating further suspension “may be fruitless”.

Although his original actions had “nothing to do with his competence as a pharmacist”, it concluded he remained a “risk to the reputation of the profession” and ruled to strike him from the register.

Read the full determination here.

36 Comments
Question: 
How do you check all MUR forms are filled out correctly?

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

The GPhC has no idea what workplace pressure is- all they seem to do is produce meaningless guidance year on year that they either cannot or will not enforce. They are aware of target pressure from powerful employers affecting quite a few pharmacists and rather than addressing this directly with those culpable they are punishing individual pharmacists that are being bullied by their employers. 

This pharmacist did not deserve to be struck off. The GPhC lack any compassion whatsoever and need schooling on ethics.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I am shocked that when a pharmacist made a fatal dispensing error he is suspended for 7 months, but when one submits incomplete paperwork without harming any patients, one is struck off. The GPhC really needs to develop their sense of  balance and proportion. 

annon york, Community pharmacist

I worked for another company which also had unreasonable targets and pressures, added to that I was on a substantial wage, surprisingly after amitting to the company I was depressed and having problems at home instead of help I was reported to FtP which only made things worse. Started drinking a lot when I got an interim suspension which lead to a suspension. There is no help really the companies will do all they can to aviod actually disaplining you, helping you or paying you off when they can get the FtP to do the work for them. He will be happier I would guess not going through the stress or waste of money going through all the hoops to get the suspension lifted. I am hoping to have my final hearing to be back on reg fully, after 3 years. Just started to retrain in another field of work and feel much better about getting out now even though I'll have done what they wanted. I feel more positive about my future now with the prospect of life outside Pharmacy and happier than in the previous ten years. Hope he's found a new career and much happier within it, as I'm sure he will.

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

What you aregoing through is deplorable. No one can pay you back the trauma and distress of the 3 years you have been on suspension. Pharmacy has become an inhumane profession presided over by a Regulatory leadership with what one can call stupefying ignorance.

Every day as Practioners we work under conditions that are a danger to ourselves as professionals and more importantly to the very patients we serve. The people responsible for these appalling conditons are the owners or contractors. Yet if you visit the raising Concerns part of the GPHC website, there is no facility to raise concerns about Owners. Yet the same Owners can report you and within hours you are suspended and back home ruminating.

Why is it that the GPHC doesnt consider Owners or Contractors as Regulatory persons who can be taken to task like individual Registrants. Why havent we seen or read about any of these big multiples in the Regulate publication every month like we read about Pharmacists or Technicians. 

I have worked in Pharnacy premises where mice actualy avoid visiting, yet they get satisfactory reports and continue trading. When you report live transgressions to inspectors they tell you to report via a non-existent concerns pathway. You would hope they would turn up see the evidence first hand and they deftly avoid and by the time anyone turns up there is nothing to show. Yet if it is a Pharmacist or Technician, they are in like a flash and even trivial shop floor gossip gets a Pharmacist or Technician suspended or struck off. 

For as long as Pharmacy especially Retail remains as heartless as shown in Annon York's case, Professionals will not come forward for support. The inadequacy of human and material resources is what stresses and depresses Pharmacists.  Retail Pharmacy is heavily manual and all Contractors areallergic to technology. I have never seen a profession still run by cardex cards and clattered files like Pharmacy. Most Non-Professional Managers at times you wonder whether they have been anywhere near a school. So you have poorly educated and motivated staff with stone age technology and then you wonder why your Pharmacist is close to mental breakdown. 

Meanwhile the regulatory body feels that the owner of such a business is not accountable to anyone for failing to provide an enviromnent necessary to carry out the bussiness of Community Pharmacy. This business entity, with thoughtless impunity is placing at risk the professional he employs and the patients he serves. Surely someone help me out on this one, shouldnt the GPHC reconsider and have Boots or the behemoth Lloydspharmacy in Regulate, just once for their transgressions.

As for you , Annon, I hope you work with human beings in your new adventure. You deserve it .

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

good luck

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Back in my pre-reg days my tutor conducted 99% of her MURs at the counter.

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

I’ve seen the same for myself. I bet it’s alot more widespread than we think...

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Quite recently I was encouraged to do MURs OTC by an independent...He also used to knock on the consultation door if I was taking "too long".... absolutely ridiculous, and this behaviour just encourages employee pharmacist to cut corners...And we are  supposed to whistleblow to a regulator that does nothing to support the individual pharmacist...

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

... and those retrospective MURs, the paperwork may be correct ... but were they done properly ... I don’t believe no one have thought of that before! The GPhC only works on evidence provided by “investigations” in a particular format? Deliberately fudging the issue?

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

I wonder if this could be challenged under disability discrimination?? Shame on the GPhC - we are supposed to treat patients (that are ill) with care and sensitivity... Shame that we ourselves are not afforded the same from our regulator! They are here to uphold standards (and not to represent our interests) but surely standards work both ways?!?!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Shame on the GPhC. Yet again they let down their pharmacists while the big corporate fish gets off scot free.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

This is a very sad situation, and I think that more leniency should have been exercised into looking at the factors which drove him into a state of depression. And a structured action plan after a period of suspension to have treatment, counselling and professional retraining would have been the more appropriate route.  Sorry Mr Hamer, I wish you well and I,m sure you will find your way back into an alternative profession without much problems, Good luck!

Former Cist, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I must admit to the odd feeling of frustration every time the subject of MURs is raised.

It's hard to find a community pharmacist who enjoys providing them, or values them and frankly it's even harder to find a community pharmacist who delivers a professional MUR service as intended, as the environment in which they work does not allow twenty minute periods where the pharmacist can cocoon themselves in a private room to have a meaningful consultation with a patient. Employers pressure their staff to perform their full quota on patients who, according to pharmacists I talk to, don't want them and pharmacists then hesitate to forward summaries which usually state the b******* obvious to GPs who ignore them and have no respect for the service and see no value in it.

As a result the easiest patients are pressured in to having a pointless conversation where no one benefits apart from the contractors bank balance (and to be fair they are only getting back financially what they used to automatically receive). Those patient's who really would benefit are the most challenging or are housebound and frankly there isn't time, or so I am told, to engage them.

My point is that if the popularly quoted statistic that 50% of patients i.e. half of them, don't take their meds as intended is true, then something needs to be seriously and urgently done to remedy this (and improve wellbeing, improve outcomes, reduce admissions etc). 

Can I suggest then that capacity and funding is provided to facilitate healthcare professionals who are experts in medicines to talk to their patients, educate them about the importance of taking their medication as prescribed, help them, support them and answer questions to help improve adherence and then liaise with the GPs to keep them informed. Arrh I've just realised, I've reinvented the MUR service and that doesn't work.

Sod it, give the role and the money to the practice pharmacists, they'll do it. I suspect many community pharmacists would support this if it at least meant that the young, inexperienced and vulnerable members of the profession are not to be sadly victimised by the powerful as documented above.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

How many pharmacists have been struck off for MUR offences and what proportion are Boots? The GPhC still won’t investigate Boots! Disgraceful. How did the GPhC find out, did Boots tell them? I still wonder if Boots only selectively report pharmacists to their disciplinary dept, I mean the GPhC. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The relationship between Boots and GPhC is certainly not one for the benefit of pharmacy. Unfortunately anymore detail and C&D delete the post as it puts Boots in a poor light.

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I don't get it, why didn't he just tell the truth, all of the MURs were a complete waste of time and no issues/further action was identified in any of them.  Case closed.  

Chemical Mistry, Editorial

Then you would have performance managed him out of a job. It is people like you caused him do what he did. so why dont you just not comment that the polite way if you know what i mean!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Nice try but he would have been sacked anyway. If you don't hit your 400 MURs it's game over.

 

Keith Mitchell, Community pharmacist

I was at the meeting when PSNC first introduced MUR's as "the future of Pharmacy", and was the one dissenting voice. I asked if there was a Plan B, and was laughed out of court. The alternative to MUR's was "Do nothing" to which I replied "Do nothing then". Cue more laughter. Some years later, the front cover of C&D read "We should have done nothing" or something like. Nuff said.

 

Leroy Jackson, Community pharmacist

What was the input from the Boots Pharmacist Association?? Didn't they try to defend one of their own?? 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

They would have done sweet FA.

Dave Downham, Manager

(I think Mr Jackson was being sarcastic, Ms Pharmacy)

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

It's always 'former' Boots. First sign of trouble you're sacked and sent to their chums in Canary Wharf to finish you off.

Dear editor it must be a coincidence the same multiples keep cropping up in these cases. Keep up your good work and remember the Boots MUR thing is purely coincidence. Silly pharmacists making up MURs, just can't get the staff these days.

 

InSpectre Inspector, Pharmacist Director

Boots should take a long look at themselves. According to the report, Mr Hamer admitted his mistake and confided in them about his mental health problems, depression, stress, loneliness and pressure. Why would they or anyone else be surprised that he felt unable to ask for help - feeling overwhelmed, a lack of connection to those around you and inability to ask for help are classic symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.

Did they offer support? Did they offer counselling? Did anyone stop to think that Mr Hamer had nothing to gain by his actions, other than keeping his managers off his back of course?

No. They chose to dimiss him and report him to the GPhC.

As for the GPhC?  They could have referred the case back to Boots, with a suggestion that they offer support, education and retraining. But no, they felt the need to subject Mr Hamer to further stress in the form of a FtP hearing. This will not have helped in any way whatsoever. Adding to Mr Hamer's stress and inflicting shame upon him will only make his recovery from depression even harder.

Pharmacy was once a caring profession, sadly no more.

Mr Hamer, I don't know you, but sincerely hope now this is over, you can start to heal. Your competence as a pharmacist was never called into question, just your abilty to make good decisions whilst suffering from stress and depression. Please remember that.

Perhaps the GPhC has done you a favour - you're probably better off out of pharmacy anyway. I wish you well in your future.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

It seems some decision makers are unable to separate fact, fiction and causal association of being struck off and who they work for. The vision and dystopian day to day routine of those under pressure to carry out this 'service' is leading to ill health. Oh, hang on, you have to declare your health is not impaired if you wish to be on the register.....The post truth world is very much in evidence, and the remaining carcass of community pharmacy is becoming orwellian...

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well said. Mr. Hamer you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are the victim here and you have the support of all the other pharmacists treated in the same way. The disgrace is elsewhere, not with you Sir.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Really feel for Mr Hamer - the GPhC did not investigate the cause, just the FTP against him. I'd ask him to get in touch with PDA - still distressed to see this going on. GPhC are just interested in scapegoating! Shame on them

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

GPhC investigate Boots? Hmmmm I don't think so.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

The sooner MUR's and the like are done away with, the better.

 

Milan Amin, Superintendent Pharmacist

Mr Hamer will realise in the long run the benefits of being out of the ‘profession’.  

 My advise would be to retrain as a building professional; earn three times as much and where the worst outcome to incompetence or incomplete work would be being chased  by  some man with a microphone from Watchdog.

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