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Former Co-op ACT suspended for 'repeatedly smelling of alcohol'

Suzanne Scott, registration number 5007151, showed an 'unpardonable' lack of engagement with fitness-to-practise proceedings, the pharmacy regulator found

Suzanne Scott, registration number 5007151, showed an 'unpardonable' lack of engagement with fitness-to-practise proceedings, the pharmacy regulator found

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.

What do you make of the ruling?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Stewart MacPherson, Locum pharmacist

please give MESUTOZIL another outlet for dumping trash


*This comment has been deleted for breaching the community principles - C+D

Stewart MacPherson, Locum pharmacist

Was she breathalysed? Did she make any error which was injurious to a patient? Were there any complaints from customers which might relate to 'a smell of alcohol' or professional incompetence? It appears that she is being punished for her failure to respond to the GPHc investigation, which is based upon complaints made by colleagues. This case could be seen as victimisation. Has anyone considered her current state?
Ms Scott deserves a hearing.

Samuel Jacobs, Community pharmacist

A Victim of a Witch-Hunt!

R G, Pharmacist Director

Pharmacy. What a caring profession!

It is a real shame that proper, intelligent debate on this site is consistently drowned out by trolls.

Debate should be guided by facts, not hyperbole and personal attacks. WE are pharmacists. We should therefore have a thorough understanding of data and critical appraisal.

People with genuinely interesting comments can't get a word in edgeways because of petty squabbling. Its not even subtle trolling; its so obvious its actually embarrassing to watch.

Comments about religion or terrorist groups, particularly given the current setting of how many lives are being lost, are simply distasteful, childish, and are in clear breach of the community principles of this forum.

How healthcare professionals can make fun of such a terrible situation, in which people are suffering, is beyond me. It's frankly GPhC complaint-worthy.

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

Hayley, get off your *high horse. What makes you the judge of what is GPhC complaint worthy and what is not. These are legitimate views. We are humans above being pharmacists and have we have a right to express our personal views.

Anyway, you have the same rights to express your views and debate in a manner you see fit. Equally, everyone else has their right.

*This comment has been edit for a breach of the community principles - C+D

Well, given I am a registered pharmacist who is familiar with the GPhC standards of conduct, ethics and performance for pharmacists, as well as the community rules for this forum, I think I am pretty well placed to judge what is GPhC complaint worthy. Any registered pharmacist should of course be thoroughly aware of these also, particularly standard three of the GPhC standards. Of course, any member of the public is also well placed to decide what is GPhC complaint worthy, so i don't quite see your point here.

Go and read the community forum guidelines.

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

I don't see the need to get into a tête-à-tête with you, frankly. Yes, you are pretty well placed to judge. Well done. You are good pharmacist. Now go along and annoy someone else.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

It's merely a reflection of the state of the 'profession' ie appalling

Gaynor Devereaux, Locum pharmacist

I agree that the GPhC really have over-reacted here, it's not very good to smell of alcohol at work but maybe she had not been drinking but using alcohol for cleaning her skin, skin toner with alcohol in? either way, I think it is an awful cheek to expect her to allow the society access to her medical records when nothing other than the smell of alcohol is found against her and her work is totally unaffected, who are we going to witch hunt next? smelly staff? that would be a good idea, if someone offends the olfactory cells of other workers will it be reported? and they may be suspended because they are a health risk?

L Murphy, Pharmaceutical Adviser

mmm concur

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

You've got to love the GPhC - not!!!!!
'What would seem to have been excessive drinking episodes' - her work was not compromised, a 'fitness to practise' and suspension is way beyond what is called for here - providing we have been given all the info.

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

Yes, agree with Caroline. The case was not proven by GPhC , all be it they were not able to hear her side of the story, but the fact remains that in a court of law , if there is reasonable doubt, the court cannot take punitive action, however the GPhC did decide to take punitive action , when all the facts were not evident.
It would seem action was taken against her because she failed to respond to them. That however is not an admission of guilt on her part.
GPhc - you need to take a hard look at yourselves and get in touch with the real world, she may well have a young family to provide for!!


If alcohol is a disease, it is the only disease that:
- Is sold in bottles
- Is advertised in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television
- Has licensed outlets to spread it
- Produces revenue for the government
- Brings violent deaths on the highways
- Destroys family life and increases crime
- Has no germs or viral cause

Rehan Nawaz, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

I think you may mean if 'alcoholism' is a disease......

Rehan Nawaz, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

I presume one should not expect a bottle of wine when Mesut is invited to their party!

Dave Downham, Manager

Careful Mesut, you're getting wise & philosophical in your old age. You might get a positive response to a comment.


Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for breaching the community principles - C+D


What I don't approve of is someone who is drunk and then harms another innocent person, burden A/E depts, waste police time, get behind a wheel and kills someone, the social problems it causes, etc etc...I hope my position is clear Rajive Patel

Stewart MacPherson, Locum pharmacist

This person was not proved to be drunk, did not harm anyone, and most certainly did not interfere in your perfect world. Your position may be clear but your conscience is dernaged.


The middle-aged are to be warned by GPs not to share a bottle of wine a night because they think they have ‘earned a rest’.
Guidelines from the health watchdog NICE tells doctors to urge patients in their 50s and 60s to take more exercise, lose weight and cut back on alcohol to prevent dementia and other illnesses.
Importantly, GPs will be told to inform patients that even sticking within the Government’s safe alcohol guidelines of two units a day for women and three for men raises the risk of future illness.
A typical bottle of wine contains ten units of alcohol. The guidelines also state there is ‘no safe level of alcohol consumption’.

Stop plagiarising things as your own. Include the source of your copying and pasting.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Sometimes but not always one should focus on the message and not concern yourself unnecessarily with messenger

When the message is directly copied form the Daily Fail, it is highly likely to be unreliable.


As health professionals we should be discouraging people from drinking alcohol. The disadvantages are greater than any advantages it has to offer. It looks like you need a tipple to get you through the day...
You seem very defensive on this subject....Those that are tee-total can spend their money on numerous luxaries - mine heats my Pool :)

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

*This comment has been deleted for breaching the community principles - C+D

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

A professional forum implies a forum for members of a profession. Pharmacy is NO LONGER a profession. Name any other 'profession' which performs a lot its functions for next to nothing, or even nothing.

Pharmacists are employees. They work for big commerce. They are told what to do and when to do it. They have no right of exercising their professional judgement.

Therefore Ms Johnson, this is not a professional forum. In the spirit of the latter, we are now allowed to behave and conduct ourselves in an "unprofessional manner" or what you might refer to "common people".

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

Tracing the history of pharmacy through the ages has seen many slow developments of our profession from its dependence on plants and unproven other substances to the present day, where we are intimately involved with chemical moieties designed to reduce the impact of infections and disease.

In the 16th century, our profession split into the apothecaries (now the general practitioners), and the chemists and druggists, who focused on supply and manufacturing prescriptions. It might be argued that the chemists and druggists are now going through another cyclical change, with the development of clinical pharmacy practice in primary care.

What roles will these pharmacists have as time moves on and their expertise in reducing drug-related morbidity and mortality becomes better validated and accepted?

The need for pharmacists in the community pharmacy environment to undertake responsibility for the dispensing process is also hanging by a thread, as arguments for qualified professional input into this process face the impending implementation of sophisticated error-free robotic dispensing units.

The dispensing contracts here appear to accept that the dispensing role, no longer dependent on skills to extemporaneously compound, has been 'dumbed down' and is less valuable.

Community pharmacists in response are taking on new skills, such as screening and vaccinations, but these are roles already captured by other health professionals who have elevated patch protection to a fine art form.

Other pharmacists have stepped out of the square and created clinical roles away from pharmacy, such as pharmacist facilitation, medication reviews, and now prescribing.

There is no doubt that pharmacy has been innovative and moved positively in recognition of the Government's desire to get more bang for its buck spent on training.

Unfortunately, the Government, has not been so willing to create funding streams for these pharmacists.

There seems to be a residual belief that all pharmacy funding should be constrained and channelled through community pharmacies, leaving little if anything for future development.

Looking back over the years and recognising the advances the profession has made, the adaptations it has embraced and the many achievements the profession has endorsed, it seems as though we have finally succeeded in flowering into a fully fledged health profession, only to be left, unceremoniously, to wither and die.


Two under-11 children every week are rushed to hospital for DRINKING, new figures show
Over 100 children aged 11 or under rushed to A&E over drinking last year
Among 2,084 under-15s admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons
In total, 7,892 under-18s were seen in 2012/13, according to new statistics
Alcohol Concern branded figures 'a disgrace' and blamed cheap alcohol

Proof that there is a problem with Alcohol in the Uk.......


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