A pharmacist with 53 years' experience has been struck off the professional register for posing as a pharmacy inspector in a "moment of madness".
Denis George Mallalieu, registration number 2011520, spent 40 minutes conducting a bogus inspection of a pharmacy after finding out there was no responsible pharmacist present, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a nine-day fitness-to-practise hearing ending on July 11.
Mr Mallalieu admitted to making enquiries about the pharmacy but denied posing as an inspector. The GPhC accepted that Mr Mallalieu had enjoyed a "long and no doubt distinguished career" and was of good character, but branded his evidence inconsistent and rejected his claims there had been a conspiracy against him.
Mr Mallalieu entered Hale Barns Pharmacy in Altrincham, Cheshire, at around 9.20pm in April 2011 to fill a prescription. He found there was no responsible pharmacist present so the prescription could not be dispensed.
The trainee dispenser on duty said Mr Mallalieu then said the prescription was a test purchase. He said he pretended to be an inspector – walking around the retail area, asking about the dispenser's qualifications and making notes. He also asked to enter the dispensary and see the controlled drugs register, the GPhC heard, although this was denied by Mr Mallalieu.
Mr Mallalieu refused to provide identification and the dispenser was in "two minds" as to whether he was a genuine inspector, the GPhC heard. But the dispenser was nonetheless concerned and made a "high volume of calls" to the pharmacist and the pharmacy's owner during the 40-minute bogus inspection.
The next day, Mr Mallalieu contacted the PCT to complain that there had been no pharmacist present at the pharmacy. On the same morning, the pharmacy's owner also contacted the PCT to report that the pharmacy had not fulfilled its contractual hours the previous day due to its pharmacist being ill.
Four days later, the PCT was sent a screenshot of the man who had carried out an inspection of the pharmacy. A PCT employee recognised the individual as Mr Mallalieu and informed the GPhC that he was not an inspector.
Mr Mallalieu admitted to looking around the pharmacy, asking to see the responsible pharmacist notice and making notes, but denied this was done under the guise of an inspector. He claimed his pharmaceutical knowledge could have "intimidated" the dispenser and led him to believe Mr Mallalieu was an inspector.
Mr Mallalieu said the pharmacy owner and pharmacist were worried about failing to meet their contractual obligations and had formed a "conspiracy" against him. But the GPhC decided there was "no evidence whatsoever" to support this view.
It also pointed out that Mr Mallalieu's version of events had "wavered over time". He had initially told the GPhC he visited the pharmacy due to complaints from patients, but later gave the impression it was a "spur-of-the-moment thing", the GPhC noted.
The GPhC accepted that Mr Mallalieu was highly regarded by friends and colleagues and stressed that it did not underestimate his commitment to the profession. But it found his evidence was inconsistent and said he had an "ostensible" lack of insight or remorse.
Mr Mallalieu said he had no intention of practising again as a pharmacist and withdrew from the process once his fitness-to-practise was found to be impaired.
The GPhC concluded that Mr Mallalieu had acted on "a desire to play detective" when he realised there was no pharmacist on duty. The regulator expressed concerns that he was unable to accept he was wrong and ruled to strike him off the register, in what it deemed a "sad culmination to a very long and no doubt distinguished career".
Read the full determination here.