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RPS membership numbers slip again

Pharmacy News

RPS membership numbers slip again

By Richard Thomas

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has admitted that it is finding membership recruitment and retention “challenging” in the current environment.

Responding to a question from Mike Holden about the low turnout at this year’s English Pharmacy Board election at last week’s RPS annual general meeting (May 24), chief executive Paul Bennett said: “Membership recruitment is challenging. I think that we’re not immune to the same pressures that other leadership bodies are [facing]. There’s a considerable amount of work going on around our membership proposition.”

“But the reality of the situation is that it is tough out there for membership and leadership organisations, so we’ve got a massive amount of work to do,” he continued.

Mr Holden pointed out that the 7.3 per cent election turnout suggested that the RPS had about 18,300 members in England – “only 34 per cent of the GPhC register”. Mr Bennett agreed this was “disappointing”.

In the Society’s 2022 annual report, Paul Bennett and president Claire Anderson say that member fees income was “broadly flat year-on-year.” While there was growth in various membership categories, such as foundation trainees, the total paying membership fell by 3.7 per cent to 26,137.

“The majority of those not renewing cited that they were either leaving the profession (as a consequence of retirement or career change) or the financial pressures they were under had meant many were having to make very difficult decisions about where to deploy any discretionary income they may have left after paying household bills, insurances fees, travel costs etc,” they comment.

“This is the reality of the environment voluntary membership organisations find themselves in currently and means we must work even harder to demonstrate value.”

The Society had a total of 38,193 members in 2022 compared with 38,630 in 2021.

The organisation reported an operating surplus for 2022 of £1.316m, up from £1.297m in 2021. Prior to any movements arising from property revaluations or the defined benefit pension scheme, this amounted to a surplus before taxation of £740,000 (£763,000 in 2021). Total revenues increased by £307,000 from £25.294m to £25.601m year-on-year.

The review shows that the Society’s headcount went up from 194 to 212 employees in 2022. Five individuals had salary earnings of over £100,000 p.a. excluding employer pension and national insurance contributions. Two individuals earned between £150,001-£160,000.

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