Pharmacist used dead people's names

Last updated 05:00 10/09/2012

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An Auckland pharmacist who used dead people's names to claim prescriptions has been suspended from practising for nine months and ordered to pay more than $6000.

Wayne David Baker - the former co-owner of the Mt Albert Pharmacy, was sentenced in Auckland District Court in October 2011 to eight months' home detention.

Two months earlier, the 54-year-old admitted 93 charges of fraud relating to dishonestly claiming pharmacy prescriptions - including by using dead people's details - between July 2006 and July 2009.

He also filed prescriptions for people who hadn't requested them and claimed for prescriptions that hadn't been given to patients, ripping off the Auckland  District Health Board to the tune of $69,000.

"It's a tragedy that this is a spectacular fall from grace for you,'' Judge Claire Ryan said at Baker's sentencing.

In a recently released New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal decision, the professional Conduct Committee said Baker's convictions had ''reflected adversely'' on his fitness to practice and the matters were of ''sufficient severity'' to warrant disciplinary action.

The committee said Baker's conduct ''displayed a complete disregard of his obligations to the public and the profession and placed the reputation of the pharmacy profession as a whole at risk''.

The committee had spent $10,000 on the case and the tribunal just over $9000.

Baker submitted that he was a first time offender and had three adult children who attended university to support.

The tribunal was told Baker's court sentence was a significant punishment and there was no need for further ''deterrence'' and that the community would ''suffer immeasurably'' if Baker was banned from the profession. He had already sold his share in the pharmacy to an independent pharmacist.

The tribunal said a significant number of references were provided detailing Baker's good character, his remorse and sorrow, his reputation as a ''caring community'' pharmacist and his ''high degree of professionalism and empathy for his clients''.

The tribunal found, more concerning than Baker's use of dead people's names to gain prescriptions - including his late father-in-law - was the fact he ignored industry warnings about this type of offending and used his ''imagination to find different ways to achieve his objective of the immoral and illegal use of public funds by manipulation''.

''It cannot be said that, having paid a penalty to the general law, a health practitioner has discharged the obligations owed to his or her profession and to the public that profession serves,'' the tribunal found.

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Baker was suspended from practicing as  a pharmacist for nine months, censured, ordered to pay $6300 and for a period of two years after he resumes work must do so under a number of conditions including that he not be in charge of a pharmacy.

- Auckland Now

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