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Pharmacy technician struck off after stealing blood sugar tests to sell on eBay

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Pharmacy technician struck off after stealing blood sugar tests to sell on eBay

A pharmacy technician who was convicted of stealing £10,000 worth of blood sugar testing strips from her pharmacy to sell on eBay has been struck off by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Rita Mehmi of Sutton Coldfield was also found to have breached patient confidentiality by removing “thousands” of prescriptions from the pharmacy, many of which went undiscovered for months – leaving her employer unable to claim for them.

A fitness to practise hearing that took place via videolink last week heard that Ms Mehmi was convicted of theft in April 2022 and given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to stealing items to the value of £10,000 from Swanpool Pharmacy, where she had worked since July 2019, and that a civil court later ordered to pay her former employer £14,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Her employer had noticed that unusually high quantities of Aviva test strips were being ordered, and that the pharmacy’s costs were rising since Ms Mehmi’s employment began. Curious about whether she was selling the strips for profit, he typed her postcode into eBay and enquired whether anyone was selling diabetic test strips.

He received a response from an account owned by Ms Mehmi’s husband, and then placed an order for a box of strips – which turned out to match a batch number on a shipment the pharmacy had received from wholesaler Lexon UK. He also “recognised the handwriting on the jiffy bag from the eBay order as that of the registrant,” the FtP committee noted.

On May 29 2020 the owner – described as Witness A in the proceedings – became suspicious that Ms Mehmi was taking stock. He called the police, who found a box of Aviva test strips in her car, as well as “thousands of prescriptions” in the boot of her car.

During her police interview nine months later, she admitted selling the Aviva strips on eBay over a nine-month period but denied ordering them, claiming they were unopened returns from customers – a claim she did not deviate from when submitting her guilty plea at Wolverhampton Crown Court. However, in March 2022, she admitted to a probation officer that she had ordered the stock herself and said she was under severe financial strain after taking out two loans totalling £23,500 without telling her husband.

In addition to the prescriptions found in a carrier bag in her car, police found a further 2,068 prescriptions when searching her house. These were out of date by the time the police informed him of this, meaning Witness A could not claim for them.

Ms Mehmi told the police that she took prescriptions home to sort through as other staff members failed to sort them into categories, creating more work for her. Witness A denied this.

The FtP committee noted that at the time she was training to become an accuracy checking technician and would have been well aware of the need to uphold patient confidentiality – a standard she fell “well below” of in taking the prescriptions, which contained private patient data.

The FtP committee found that in stealing from her employer and failing to uphold patient confidentiality she had breached fundamental principles of her profession. The committee said that while the patient data breaches were “potentially remediable” Ms Mehmi – who attended the FtP hearing but did not give evidence – could not demonstrate that she had taken steps towards remediation in the four years since her actions.

It also found that while she felt a sense of personal shame around the impact of her actions on her family and her community and had apologised to her former employer, she had not demonstrated an understanding of the impact on her colleagues or the public. The committee decided to remove her name from the register, acknowledging that this would have “adverse consequences” for her but arguing that it is “entitled to give greater weight to the public interest”.

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