‘No decision’ on GPhC fees as PSNI freezes registration fee at £398
The GPhC has told Pharmacy Network News it has not yet taken a decision on whether to increase the registration fees paid by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians during the 2023-24 financial year.
Asked whether it would follow the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland in freezing its 2023-24 fees at current levels to help pharmacists cope during the cost of living crisis, as the PSNI announced earlier this month, the GPhC responded: “The GPhC hasn’t increased its individual registrants fees since 2019. No decisions on future fees have been made but will continue to be under review.”
It also pointed out that at £257 per registered pharmacist, its annual registration and renewal fees are lower than the £398 charged by the PSNI. In December last year the Pharmacists' Defence Association said the vast majority of PDA members in Northern Ireland who responded to a survey felt the PSNI's fees were too high and did not add “to their professional standing".
While the GPhC charges pharmacy technicians £121 to renew their registration, in Northern Ireland pharmacy technicians are not yet classified as registered healthcare professionals.
The PSNI acts as both regulator and professional body for pharmacists, as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain did until the GPhC was formed in 2010.
Announcing the PSNI’s decision on February 3, chief executive Michaela McAleer said: “I am pleased with council’s decision to continue the freeze on registration fees for the seventh successive year. We are acutely aware of the pressures facing the pharmacy profession and hope this can provide some reassurance to the profession as we deal with these financially difficult times.
“We will continue to look at ways of absorbing the loss of income this represents to the society in real terms, ensuring PSNI has the income required to deliver high quality regulation in line with its statutory duties.
“We also are examining ways in which can support pharmacists to pay their registration fees in stages and hope to have a system in place for the 24/25 fee.”
In October 2020, the GPhC increased its premises renewal fees from £262 to £365 “to reflect the cost of regulating each pharmacy premises”.
In a 2021 consultation, a majority of respondents expressed support for the GPhC’s proposal to introduce a multi-year fees cycle for individual registrants. Support was expressed on the grounds this “would provide more transparency and allow pharmacy professionals to plan financially with the reassurance that there would not be an unexpected increase in fees year on year,” the regulator said at the time.