The Pharmacists’ Defence Association says it “disagrees” with the General Pharmaceutical Council’s proposals to increase its registration and renewal fees, arguing that it should first review costs such as premises and council member remuneration.
The regulator recently consulted on proposals to increase pharmacists’ fees in 2019-20 from £250 to £257, pharmacy technicians’ fees from £118 to 121, and pharmacy premises fees from £241 to £262, and says the need for increased fee revenue can be partly attributed to workload factors such as a “rising number of concerns about registrants being raised”. The consultation ran until 24 January 2019.
With approximately 56,555 pharmacists and 24,551 pharmacy technicians on the register, as well as around 14,000 registered pharmacies, this would amount to an additional £763,538 in revenue for the regulator, the PDA has calculated.
In its response to the consultation, the PDA says the GPhC “must explore other alternatives to reduce its costs such as moving its headquarters out of Canary Wharf to a cheaper location” and should “improve the governance over the remuneration of council members” by appointing an independent committee to look into this.
The PDA also says the GPhC “must demonstrate that it carefully controls the amount of money it spends on fitness to practise cases” to ensure the costs of “unnecessary litigation” are not passed onto registrants.
The PDA draws a connection between the GPhC’s fee proposals and its approach to regulating individuals and premises, saying its “fee structure appears to support the continued targeting of individual registrants rather than its dual role of the regulation of both individuals and premises”.
The regulator has said the proposed 2019-20 fees are “still below the level they would have been if the fees had simply increased each year in line with indicators for inflation”. For example, based on Consumer Price Index and Retail Price Index inflation figures, pharmacists’ 2019 fees would be between £265 and £276 if pegged to inflation, the GPhC has said.
GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said when the consultation was launched in November that the regulator recognised the impact registration and renewal fees had, particularly in the pressurised circumstances many pharmacists are currently dealing with.
However, he said, increased revenue would be needed for the GPhC to carry out its duties: “Over the last few years we have been able to carry out our regulatory duties without increasing our fees.
"We have achieved this by sustained efficiency improvements and by using some of the financial reserves we held to cover the gap between our income and our outgoings. But we are continuing to see increases in our workload and costs, which we forecast will continue."
A GPhC spokesperson told PM the regulator is currently considering all the responses it has had to the consultation and expects to publish a report in the coming months.