A former Co-operative Pharmacy accuracy checking technician has been suspended from the professional register for six months for repeatedly turning up to work smelling of alcohol.
Colleagues reported that Suzanne Scott, registration number 5007151, seemed "not quite right" on several occasions between January and August 2013, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on June 12.
The GPhC stressed that there was no evidence to show Ms Scott's performance was compromised by her alcohol consumption, and one colleague reported her work was "fine". But it said Ms Scott, who was not present at the hearing, had showed an "unpardonable" lack of engagement with the fitness-to-practise process.
Ms Scott first turned up to her Co-operative Pharmacy branch in Kilsyth, Glasgow, smelling of alcohol in January last year. Her manager was concerned and sent Ms Scott home, and told her she could return to work if she felt better in the afternoon. Ms Scott did not come back to the pharmacy that day.
Colleagues noticed further incidents of Ms Scott smelling of alcohol between February and August that year. In the final incident in August, a healthcare assistant informed the manager, who took Ms Scott into the consultation room to discuss the problem. Ms Scott denied she had been drinking the previous night, but the manager decided to suspend her immediately.
The GPhC opened an investigation into the issue and sent Ms Scott a letter in December to request access to her medical records. The letter also asked her to consent to a medical examination.
The GPhC did not receive any response, despite calling and sending a "number of other emails and letters" to Ms Scott.
The regulator acknowledged there was no evidence Ms Scott's alcohol consumption had made her "unable to work to the standard of diligence and competence required of a pharmacy technician". It also noted that Ms Scott had "shown ambition" by qualifying as an accuracy checking technician.
But the GPhC stressed there was no evidence Ms Scott had any insight into her actions. She had "reacted irresponsibly" to the GPhC investigation and provided a "bad example" to colleagues, it said. The GPhC added that patients would have been "surprised or even shocked" to find a pharmacy professional smelling of alcohol, which could have damaged public confidence in pharmacy.
The GPhC ruled to suspend Ms Scott for six months, with a review hearing before the end of the period at which she would need to agree to a medical examination and explain the reason behind "what would seem to have been excessive drinking episodes". The GPhC urged Ms Scott to inform them if she no longer wished to work in pharmacy.
Read the full determination here.