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Pharmacy owner suspended for £2,000 fraud

Fitness to practise Andrew Neil Phillips, registration number 2042770, has been suspended from the professional register for defrauding the NHS of more than £2,000 for false prescriptions

A pharmacy owner has been suspended from the professional register for defrauding the NHS of more than £2,000.


Andrew Neil Phillips, registration number 2042770, went along with his local surgery's plan to claim NHS payment for false prescriptions, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on December 16. The surgery had ordered thousands of pounds worth of medical items from the pharmacy and generated bogus prescriptions as a means of payment, the regulator heard.


The GPhC said the incident, which resulted in a criminal conviction for Mr Phillips after he pleaded guilty, had cast doubts over his integrity. But the regulator stressed that he had shown "genuine remorse" for his actions, which were not for his own financial gain, and ruled to suspend him for a year.


The GPhC ruled that Andrew Neil Phillips, registration number 2042770, had breached the fundamental principles of the pharmacy profession by being "thoroughly dishonest"

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Between 2005 and 2009, Mr Phillips' pharmacy in Rhondda Cwynon Taf, south Wales, supplied a local surgery with medical items costing nearly £3,000 in total. Instead of paying the pharmacy directly, the surgery suggested creating bogus prescriptions so the NHS would pick up the bill, the GPhC heard.


The surgery created 33 false prescriptions over a period of three months in 2010, which the pharmacy did not dispense but submitted to the local health board for £2220.44 in payment, the GPhC heard.


The claims prompted a fraud investigation. In July 2012, Mr Phillips pleaded guilty to dishonestly falsifying documents and sentenced to a community service order.


The GPhC ruled that Mr Phillips had breached the fundamental principles of the pharmacy profession by being "thoroughly dishonest".


But it said the surgery had initiated the scheme, which only served to pay money that was "undeniably owed" to Mr Phillips. Mr Phillips had since repaid the local health board but the GPhC understood that he had still not received payment from the surgery.


The GPhC also noted that Mr Phillips made "open and frank admissions" at an early stage of the investigation and had produced positive testimonials to his character. Patients described him as an "excellent pharmacist", who was a "true valuable asset" to the local community.


The regulator deemed there was "no reasonable prospect" of Mr Phillips repeating the behaviour and ruled to suspend him for 12 months with a review at the end of the period. At the review hearing, Mr Phillips would need to demonstrate he had used the year constructively and kept up-to-date with pharmacy practice, the GPhC warned.


Read the full transcript of the hearing here.



What do you make of the GPhC's ruling?

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27 Comments

Amanda Meyers, Practice nurse

Its a joke as to how lightly this guy got off, such a serious and intentional crime, yet others are made to loose their livelihood and mind by being stripped of their profession.

Samuel Jacobs, Community pharmacist

I sympathise with Mr Phillips temporary failure to exercise his good judgement of his position/situation.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Hilarious if it wasn't a true story. Doctors on the other hand can at times assault their patients and worse but retain the full backing of their regulatory body. The feeling remains that GPhC just love suspending and striking off perfectly capable pharmacists.

Amal England, Public Relations

C&D should have included, in this article, the fate of the 'kingpin', the instigator. But then what does it matter- the kingpin always has the £s and contacts to get away with crime, we have become accustomed to this.

Recently Registered Pharmacist, Pharmacy

C+D - can you do some digging and find out what sanction the surgery got for this??!!???!

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

As a pre reg graduate I think u should take this as a challenge and find out for the rest of us oldies

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

There are many things which do not make sense here. Were the items ordered by the surgery for individual patient use? Or were they for stock? What were the items ordered?

For stock use, the doctors should be held responsible because it is them who dishonestly produced prescriptions in patients' names. If I was presented with prescriptions for a patient, unless the quantity was questionable or there was some legal or clinical reason, I would not question it and supply it to the GP for use in that patient.

However, in all this case, nowhere has it been mentioned what action was taken against the GPs?!

I wonder if this pharmacy was a partner with the GPs??

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

I feel I may be missing something, could someone help?

1. Surgery needs medical items to treat patients
2. Surgery supplies prescriptions to the pharmacy for those items in the name of the patient who required the item.
3. Pharmacist dispenses them.

Can someone explain what I'm missing here?

Also it's genuinely alarming how bullied and cowed the profession has become, it feels like half of the GPhC FTP sanctions involve instances where there was no financial gain to the Pharmacist in question. We're taking the rap for bullying area managers and corrupt GPs!

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

Andrew Neil Phillips, registration number 2042770, went along with his local surgery's plan to claim NHS payment for false prescriptions, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) heard at a fitness-to-practise hearing on December 16. The surgery had ordered thousands of pounds worth of medical items from the pharmacy and generated bogus prescriptions as a means of payment, the regulator heard.

Farmer Cyst,

The prescriptions were BOGUS and instead of paying the pharmacy directly, the surgery suggested creating bogus prescriptions so the NHS would pick up the bill, the GPhC heard.

I think the C & D report above is crystal clear. My understanding is that the items were for stock use in the surgery on ANY patients.

A GP is free to order items on a prescriptions (like dressings and so on) for a named patient and then use it solely for that named patient only.

Please read the whole report thoroughly (away from the hustle and bustle of a busy dispensary).

Praful

Shahan Mir, Community pharmacist

.

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

“Let this be a lesson that a forum is……………………………………..”

Spot on! Do not use this forum to denigrate our noble profession of pharmacy. Rants have been written as comments by vociferous, rude and impolite commentators. As soon as they read something that is slightly not to their liking, they reach for their key boards and start typing, without thinking, any obnoxious point(s) that enters their one-celled brains, without pausing to put a full-stop at the end of a sentence, or starting a new sentence with a capital letter, not to mention misspelling of simple common words. Some respondents do not even know the right place for an apostrophe. This is not asking a lot, a very basic GCSE English Language grammar is all you need, not Queen’s English.
I am sure readers of this journal must be aware that these columns are being read by the Whitehall mandarins, with whom our negotiators (for pharmaceutical remuneration) have to deal with. Can you imagine what sort of impressions it creates? “Oh, they can’t even spell properly” ………let’s pay them peanuts!
Come on pharmacists, you are professionals; behave like “professionals”.

Powerful Locum, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The GPs probably have been dealt with too. Don't forget this journal is about Pharmacy profession so why would they report a GMC matter?

Sign up to the Doctors journal (don't know the name) and I'm sure it'd be on there.

Or how about the suspended pharmacist come on here and tell us who they are? C'mon everyone uses fake names these days so I've decided to have a lovely name myself. Ciao

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

has got of very lightly in court and GPHC , others have done far, far less and been cruely treated by courts and GPHC , whole system a total joke

Will the GPhC approach the GMC to receive an assurance that they will be pursuing the GPs concerned? I somehow doubt it? Have the GPs who instigated the fraud been taken to court? Can pigs really fly?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

If not, then they should report themselves to NHS fraud and to the police as they will surely be accessories after the fact i.e. they know of criminal activity and have a (professional) responsibility to report. It would be interesting to see who would sit on the panel if they were all dragged in front of a fitness to practice board for failure to report the GPs

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

Yes I would like to know what happened to the instigators of this plot. Probably cost the guy 60k in locumatboots fees, which is quite a hefty hit considering that the regulators accepted that there was no gain in it for him. I suppose an example has to be made to discourage others. I don't know but surely for a first offence with little prospect of reoffending a wrap on the knuckles would suffice ? I have often thought that in relatively minor cases a financial penalty (which could be donated to a local charity) would be a much more fitting punishment.

I hope the recriminations have been appropriately weighted and, as Charles says, the surgery involved has also been help to account.

Seems a pretty reasonable sanction to me, but I can't help but note the irony of it all:

"The GPhC ruled that Mr Phillips had breached the fundamental principles of the pharmacy profession by being "thoroughly dishonest"."

Perhaps when he starts in his role as GPhC chair in March, Nigel Clarke would like to remind us of what happened at the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health?

Charles Caller, Community pharmacist

Surely it is important to know whether or not our fellow professionals (ie the doctors) have been treated in a similar manner by their regulatory body for initiating the fraud and being the main beneficiary. I think pharmacists would like to see even-handedness across the professions.

JULIA MERVYN-SMITH, Locum pharmacist

I can't believe this fitness to practice body.I was suspended for 3 months because I was practising thinking all was well but unknown to me my bank had bounced my fee cheque and failed to let me know. Compared to what Mr Phillips has done my punishment seemed over the top or his seems very underwhelming . During the whole procedure I was made to feel like a criminal.

Amanda Meyers, Practice nurse

The fitness to practise committee are more like a dictatorship these days instead of being a professional body to maintain standards and public safety. That is an obscene punishment and a complete waste of time and money.

Powerful Locum, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Why did your Cheque bounce? Suppose the Locum fees these days wouldn't get you out of overdraft

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

Julia words fail me on that one. Do any of these well heeled beaurocrats ever venture forth from their ivory tower into the real world. I very much doubt it

MESUT OZIL,

You should sue the bank Julia !!!!
If what your saying is true, you have grounds for compensation

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

You should sue the bank Julia !!!!
If what your saying is true, you have grounds for compensation

It is:
.....what you're saying OR what you are saying..........NOT what your saying.

MESUT OZIL,

* This comment has been removed as it was inappropriate - C+D

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

* This comment has been removed as it was inappropriate - C+D

Thank you C + D.

There is absolutely no need for anybody to post an inappropriate reply in this prestigious publication.

Praful

Blimey Julia, that's awful. There certainly seems to be some inconsistencies.

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