17 March 2009
Leading pharmacist Dr Hooman Ghalamkari MBE is due to be sentenced this Wednesday at Worcester Crown Court (18th March), after an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS).
On 4th February, at Worcester Magistrates’ Court, Ghalamkari entered guilty pleas for offences committed against the NHS worth £34,000 in total. The investigation uncovered theft of prescription charges belonging to the NHS (between 23rd December 2004 and 12th December 2005) and falsifying documents used for accounting purposes (5th February 2005 to 1st December 2006).
Dr Ghalamkari was dispensing the lower priced Simvastatin instead of the more expensive Simvador. He was then claiming payment from the Trust for the more expensive Simvador and pocketing the difference.
He was also withholding NHS prescription charges. Patients paid the correct charge (around £6.50 at the time), then without their knowledge had their prescription forms altered to indicate they were exempt from the charges. Meanwhile, Ghalamkari was keeping the cash that rightfully belonged to the NHS.
Since his arrest and the search of his home and businesses, Dr Ghalamkari has sold his two Worcester pharmacies – the award-winning DG Pharmacy in Dines Green and Halt Pharmacy in St John’s. He has also repaid £27,000 to the NHS.
NHS CFS Managing Director Dermid McCausland said today: “This case reminds people that fraud can sometimes be committed where we might least expect it. Dr Ghalamkari was regarded highly in the pharmaceutical community; it is disappointing that he should waste his talents by turning to crime. This case sends out a strong message that wherever NHS fraud occurs it will be vigorously pursued. The NHS Counter Fraud Service will robustly investigate any suspicions of fraud and where appropriate seek legal redress."
For more information contact Daryl Barrett at the NHS CFS press office on 020 7895 4523. Out of hours mobile 07717 851 926
Further information on NHS CFS can be found at www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/CounterFraud.aspx
Notes to Editors
1. The NHS Counter Fraud Service (NHS CFS) - a division of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) - was established to tackle fraud and corruption throughout the NHS, whether it involves professionals, staff, patients or contractors. It aims to create a lasting anti-fraud culture.
2. Around 319 professionally-trained and accredited Local Counter Fraud Specialists are in place covering every health body in England and Wales. They are supported nationally and regionally by the NHS Counter Fraud Service. The Service investigations produced potential savings to the NHS of £7,565,014 during 2007-08.
3. In 2007-08 the NHS CFS successfully prosecuted 57 criminal cases with a 96% success rate.
4. To report any incident of suspected fraud in the NHS, please call the Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line on 0800 028 40 60.