A Worcester pharmacist honoured by the Queen swindled the NHS out of £34,000.

Dr Hooman Ghalamkari, founder of the award-winning DG Pharmacy in Dines Green, faked prescriptions, falsified documents and handed out cheap, unbranded drugs to his patients in order to pocket the cash.

Yesterday Ghalamkari appeared before a judge at Worcester Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to false accounting and theft of prescription charges.

The 39-year-old chemist, who was made an MBE by the Queen in 2005 for his services to the community, now faces up to six months in jail.

Ghalamkari admitted: Claiming for medicine that had never been dispensed, gaining £6,600 for himself.

Selling customers a cheap, unbranded drug, despite doctors prescribing a brand medicine, gaining £23,320 for himself.

Claiming customers were exempt from paying for prescriptions because they were on benefits, when they had in fact paid him for their medicine, gaining £4,500 for himself.

Deputy district judge Robert Cockerill said the offences were so serious Ghalamkari should be sentenced at Worcester Crown Court next month.

Ghalamkari’s crimes came to light after Worcestershire PCT accused a number of DG Pharmacy customers of falsely claiming free prescriptions by saying they were on benefits.

In fact, the customers had paid for their prescriptions, but someone at the phar- macy had falisfied their prescriptions.

The patients complained to Ghalamkari, who told them he would pay the charges for them.

The court heard that even Worcester city councillor Margaret Layland, then a senior member of staff at DG Pharmacy, used £76 of her own money to pay off charges for a neighbour.

Ruth Edwards, prosecuting, said: “This happened to a number of customers on a number of occasions. It was whilst this investigation was ongoing that it became apparent there had been problems with prescribing the drug Simvador.”

By dispensing a cheaper alternative, even with the patients’ knowledge, Ghalamkari had breached his NHS contract.

“The PCT calculated that by doing this he had been overpaid a sum in the region of £23,000 – money he was not entitled to,” said Ms Edwards.

“He was the only person who benefited from all of this, but it had been going on for some while.”

Ghalamkari, of Nursery Walk, St John’s, Worcester, repaid £27,000 following his arrest. But the other £7,000 remains outstanding. Graham Southall-Edwards, defending, said Ghalamkari deserved credit for admitting the theft.

“He saved the NHS counter-fraud service a lot of time and work,” he said. “He offered payment and has indicated a guilty plea.”

He said that Ghalamkari took full responsibility because he took the money, even if he did not sign the fraudulent prescriptions himself.

Ghalamkari will be sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on Friday, March 6.

He was released on unconditional bail until then.

Dr Hooman Ghalamkari: his life and times

PHARMACIST Hooman Ghalamkari was a well-known, respected member of a close-knit community.

The owner of award-winning pharmacies in Dines Green and St John’s, he was considered a pillar of the community and credited with transforming healthcare on a deprived estate.

In 2005 he was made an MBE by the Queen in recognition of his good work.

But, there was shock and disbelief when the 39-year-old was arrested on suspicion of fraud in November 2006.

As rumours of his suspected fraud circulated, Ghalamkari sold his pharmacies. The Iranian-born doctor spent his early years in Tehran before he moved to Worcester with his family at the age of 10.

He studied at Bath University and completed a post-graduate degree in Bristol before opening DG Pharmacy in Gresham Road, Dines Green, in 1997.

Within two years the pharmacy at the heart of the estate had been named Community Pharmacy of the Year.

In 2000 it won a national award for pharmacy services and in 2003 it won the medicines category at the Pharmacy Business Awards.

Ghalamkari went on to open Halt Pharmacy, within the Henwick Halt Medical Centre, St John’s, in 2005.

Following his arrest in November 2006, Worcester city councillor Margaret Layland, who worked closely with Ghalamkari as a senior member of staff at DG Pharmacy, said: “Take aside the fact I have a vested interest in the chemists, Hooman is a very genuine, caring and hard-working man who has transformed healthcare in this community.

“We tried to get a chemist here for so long and when he first approached us it was like a gift from above.”