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Pharmacist who misused patient data gets three-month suspension

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Pharmacist who misused patient data gets three-month suspension

A pharmacist who accessed patient data to contact them about his business venture – and who allegedly made inappropriate comments to a female patient – has been suspended for three months by the GPhC’s fitness to practise committee.

In a remote hearing that took place over November 14-7 and December 15, the FtP committee considered the case of Middlesbrough pharmacist Afetsi Fiamavle, who admitted accessing the personal data of “eight or more” patients in order to contact them for his own financial gain but denied that he had told a female patient she ‘looked slim’ and asked her out on a date.

The committee heard that Mr Fiamavle had, while working at a branch of LloydsPharmacy in Coulby Newham, become involved in the autumn of 2020 with a financial services company named Genistar, which offered him commission if he managed to enlist other individuals to act as sales representatives.

The registrant acknowledged that between August and October 2020 he had introduced “some” of his patients at the pharmacy to Genistar, for example while conducting a medication review. Some were then approached using contact details obtained via Compass, the company’s dispensing system.

The committee also heard evidence from Witness 1, who said that on September 24 2020 the registrant had conducted a medicines review with her, at the end of which he told her ‘You’re looking very slim’ and asked her to go on a date the following Saturday.

He proceeded to call her at home on Saturday October 3 2020 and asked for help with a presentation he was preparing, and at the end of the phone call sent her a link to the Genistar website. Witness 1 filed a complaint with LloydsPharmacy head office explaining that the registrant’s behaviour had made her feel “vulnerable and anxious,” leading to the company launching an investigation.  

Committee hearing

In his evidence to the FtP committee, Mr Fiamavle admitted accessing Witness 1’s data and calling her about Genistar but denied that he had told her she was ‘looking slim’, a comment he described as being incompatible with his religious faith; he claimed he had merely said she was ‘looking well’.

With regard to his admitted misuse of patients’ private data, he described being affected by difficult personal circumstances during the period in question that clouded his judgement.

While the committee noted the numerous positive testimonials it received attesting to Mr Fiamavle’s character and accepted his assertion that his behaviour during the period in question was “out of character,” with regard to the allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards Witness 1 it favoured her evidence over his, describing her as a “consistent witness” and noting that she had made her complaint “very shortly” after the phone call.

The committee determined that it had been proven that the registrant had commented on Witness 1’s figure and asked her out, and that his conduct towards her and misuse of patient data had shown a lack of integrity. However, it decided that the allegation of sexual intent on his part had not been proven.

The committee considered that his behaviour “fell short of the most serious conduct” and that there was “no significant risk” that it will be repeated. It concluded that a three-month suspension order – with no interim suspension order during the 28-day appeal period – would be sufficient to uphold public confidence in the profession. 

Mr Fiamavle, who said he was “heartbroken” to learn of the impact his behaviour had on Witness 1, has completed courses in safeguarding and professional boundaries. The FtP committee noted the evidence of numerous colleagues and of the superintendent pharmacist at the pharmacy where Mr Fiamavle worked until July 2023, who expressed their “confidence that the registrant will not behave inappropriately in future”. 

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