Requirement to disclose criminal history

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal recently considered a case where a pharmacist failed to advise the Pharmacy Board of Australia that he had been charged with offences punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, within seven days of being charged by the NSW Police. The pharmacist had pleaded guilty to supply of a prohibited drug, supplying a restricted substance otherwise than by wholesale and offences under relating to the proceeds of crime. Additionally, he took possession of and retained possession of blank stolen prescription pads.

Criminal history (as defined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW)) that must be disclosed to the Pharmacy Board of Australia includes:

  • every conviction,
  • every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court, and
  • every charge made against a person for an offence.

While acknowledging the pharmacist’s remorse for the conduct in question and statements by him that the conduct would not reoccur, the Tribunal was significantly concerned about the pharmacist’s lack of understanding of various aspects of his behaviour. In this regard, the Tribunal found that the pharmacist’s knowledge of his obligations under The Code of Conduct, his knowledge of his ethical obligations and the general impression he conveyed about his knowledge in general, fell short of what should be expected of a professional of his level of experience.

Although the pharmacist in question had allowed his registration to lapse, he was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct, and is prohibited from applying for re-registration for a period of 18 months from the date of the decision.

In order to be registered as a pharmacist in Australia, an individual must make a declaration that they have met the National Board registration standards. These registration standards include criminal history, professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice and continuing professional development. More information on Registration Standards can be found on the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s website.

This case provides a timely reminder for pharmacists  to develop a strong knowledge of the ethical and legal obligations of their profession and adherence to these obligations.

To read the full decision, click here.