John George Thompson, registration number 2027575, “induced” junior members of staff to sign for medication they were not receiving, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise committee concluded at a hearing on April 25.
The GPhC noted that Mr Thompson, who registered in 1982, acted “for the benefit of his patients and his pharmacy” and “derived no financial gain” from this.
But it stressed he had engaged in the “systematic corruption of patient records” and “still considers he was doing the right thing”.
Mr Thompson was absent from the GPhC’s hearing in London, which he explained in an letter was because he has a “phobia of terrorism”, the regulator heard.
The GPhC heard that Mr Thompson was working as the responsible pharmacist at a branch of Lindsay and Gilmour in Fife between December 2010 and June 2015, when he conducted actions he later described as “skiing off-piste” for the benefit of patients.
The items Mr Thompson dispensed without charge to patients ineligible for Scotland’s minor ailments scheme (MAS) ranged from gauze swabs and codeine linctus to Eurax lotion and magnesium sulfate paste, the regulator noted.
The investigation into Mr Thompson’s actions was initiated after a patient – who was also an employee at the pharmacy – “noticed he had been recorded as receiving a number of medication[s] he did not think he had ever received”, the GPhC heard.
When interviewed by Lindsay and Gilmour’s director and deputy superintendent pharmacist, Mr Thompson admitted he had been “quite adventurous” with the MAS and “rarely turned anybody away”, the regulator heard.
Picking a “dump person”
Mr Thompson explained that he would privately pick a patient eligible for the MAS as, in his own words, a “dump person” – so called because Mr Thompson would “dump” the supplied medicine onto their record, the GPhC heard.
This would normally be an employee working at the pharmacy on a Saturday, because they would be under-19 and in full-time education – and therefore eligible for the MAS.
The GPhC also heard that one patient – an employee at the pharmacy – suffered an “adverse reaction” to trimethoprim supplied by Mr Thompson, which they had not been prescribed. However, it stressed that there is “no allegation that the medication was unsuitable, just that there was no valid prescription”.
The GPhC acknowledged that Mr Thompson “regards himself as a man of principle”, had no fitness-to-practise history, and “to his credit” had admitted what he had done.
“He stated clearly that if he had not helped patients in this way on occasions, they would have gone elsewhere,” the regulator said.
It also noted that Mr Thompson stated he was suffering from “generalised anxiety disorder and other stressful events” for “some of the relevant period”. However, he did not claim this was a “driver for his actions”, the GPhC said.
The regulator concluded that – although Mr Thompson acknowledged "I have sinned and deserve to be punished" – he lacked "any genuine remorse" or "insight into the seriousness of what he has done".
It stressed that Mr Thompson had “abused his position as a senior pharmacist repeatedly and over a long period of time to provide medication without charge to people he thought should have it”, and ruled to strike him from the register.
Read the full determination here.