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GPhC bumps pharmacy premises fees up to £365 from April 2021

Two thirds (67%) of the 1,716 respondents to the GPhC consultation disagreed with the increase

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has approved proposals to increase pharmacy premises fees from £262 to £365, starting from April next year.

The regulator decided to delay the introduction of the £103 increase until April 2021, after considering the pressures faced by the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, it said in a document published during its council meeting yesterday (July 23).

The GPhC had initially proposed implementing the fee increase from October this year. Speaking yesterday, GPhC CEO Duncan Rudkin said the change would now come into effect next April “to provide time for pharmacy owners to prepare”.

“Not sustainable”

The regulator has calculated that, based on 2018/19 figures, it now costs £365 a year to regulate each pharmacy.

Presenting the proposal to the council, GPhC associate director of finance and procurement Jonathan Bennetts said the council had introduced “intermittent incremental increases in premises fees” over the last decade, but that those had not “kept up with the cost of regulation”.

“We have subsidised the cost of that regulation over the last few years. It was a strategic decision to do that […], recognising some of the challenges at the time that the pharmacy sector was having, but that is clearly not a sustainable approach for us to take going forward,” he said In the document.

The GPhC also emphasised the risk to patients and the public if it does not have “sufficient resources” to regulate pharmacies “appropriately”.

Burden on pharmacy owners

Pharmacy professionals and organisations were invited to share their views on the proposed changes to the premises fees between January and March 31.

Two thirds (67%) of the 1,716 respondents to the GPhC consultation disagreed with the proposed increase, the GPhC said in yesterday’s papers.

Many respondents invited the GPhC to consider “the context in which the proposed increase would take place, citing ongoing issues such as cuts to funding and increasing workplace pressures”, the regulator said in a report also published yesterday on the consultation on the premises fee increase.

A “large proportion” of those who disagreed with the proposal said an increase in premises fees would place a financial burden on pharmacy owners.

Some respondents also suggested a higher pharmacy premises fees could trigger closures of small pharmacies that "would not have the means to manage an increase in their fees, compared to owners of multiple pharmacies with larger incomes”.

Commenting on the rise, a National Pharmacy Association spokesperson told C+D yesterday that the higher fees are “an extra cost burden for pharmacies that are already struggling financially”.

“The GPhC says it needs to cover its costs, however pharmacy contractors might wonder if the regulator is working as hard as pharmacies themselves to deliver efficiencies,” they added.

22 Comments
Question: 
Do you agree with the GPhC's decision to increase premises fees?

Caroline Jones, Locum pharmacist

If they want this increase then they MUST issue comprehensive and detailed accounts including all rents, staff wages, pensions, perks, expenses accounts (including duck houses) and actual costs of a visit to a pharmacy to justify it. This malign and secretive cabal must be made accountable to the membership now! It long ago squandered our trust and confidence and characteristically went virually AWOL during covid, so lets see how it actually uses our money or face a mass refusal to pay. This shylock 'pound of flesh' attitude to fees and regulation has to be challenged before pharmacy bleeds to death. It beggars belief that our avaricious regulator is more likely to wipe us out than covid. A profession that stood the post during this pandemic when GPs and dentists ran for cover deserves so much better than being thrown under the bus like this. Shame on you.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Actually they didnt go AWOL. Mr Rudkin appeared with the jovial (not)  Mr Ridge in the universally acclaimed, Pharmacy webinars, and manfully ignored all criticism and any questions which didnt heap praise on them.

As such he did about as much for morale in Pharmacy as covid did in a nursing home.

C A, Community pharmacist

You missed the part where they alluded that hard working Locums were profiteers thriving on the misfortune of Covid-19

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

You have to pay for their furlough and the inevitable closures. Then again that threadbare pension of big Dunc has to be funded. The rank and file will have to continue working like dogs so the top dogs don't have to.

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

Look who's profiteering.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Strange isn't it after the uproar from Rudkin about those wealthy locums.

 

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

GPhC working successfully to maintain the level of esteem in which I hold them!

C A, Community pharmacist

Hey C&D could you FOI the GPhC to see how many staff they've furloughed?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'd also be interested in seeing how many staff have been furloughed, made redundant, or reshuffled over the past six months.

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

No - it's shoddily inappropriate, conscienceless self-preservation at a time when pharmacists & our staff are daily putting ourselves and our families in harms way, at poor financial reward for the sake of this Island's inhabitants. Delaying the increase beyond an unreliable predicted end of this pandemic is an equally poor excuse.

Doesn't this just typify a distorted morally corrupt arrogance, that an increase of such magnitude might be bullishly defended under the presumption that no individual pharmacist would desire to risk engaging into contentious legal action /years of hard-earned professional stature &/or bankruptcy over the principle to block it?

What a demonstration on how NOT to lead our beloved profession by example. Thanks GPhC for such insidiously internicine behaviour.

Conversely - should you succeed in gaining your increase, then perhaps you'd be better placed as our negotiators with the DoH for our +40% ?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

They do it because they can and the contractors have no choice other than to suck it up. It's an abuse of power. The fees we pay should be decided by a body independent of the body the fees are payable to.

To be fair though, if a business closes because of a £103 increase, that business is not viable anyway.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Does make you wonder if it is part of a larger strategy of making smaller pharmacies unviable generally?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Most probably. Given it's the stated aim of the DoH and the GPhC have been very quiet on the subject, it isn't a great conspiracy theory to imagine the two bodies working to the common aim.

Dave Downham, Manager

How much did it cost to commision Ernst & Young to do their accounts for them to show the £365 figure, publish a consultation, analyse the results that showed that the vast majority were against the imposed increase and then totally ignore the findings? Not to mention the time cost of 1,716 respondents whose views were passed over. If no inspections/hearings have been taking place, couldn't GPhC have been able to furlough staff and save some costs?

Utter garbage.

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

Absolute joke nearly 40% increase... I have already e mailed PSNC to see if they are doing anything about it but I wouldn't be holding my breath. What is more amazing is the apparent 33% respondents who do not seem to have had any ojections... who are these people?

C A, Community pharmacist

I'll start this by saying I didn't respond to the consultation.

Perhaps those that agreed with the increase felt that it's going to be paid one way or the other, and if the shortfall isn't met by raising the premises cost it will be met by raising the registrant's fees.

Do you really want to pay the GPhC more as a pharmacist, just so that multiples can keep a bit more money? It's less than a £2/week raise, if a business can't support that they should close. 

 

Also I suspect the cost of 'policing' the premises if fairly flat (given a lot of it will be down to inspector wages), and if the multiples are closing branches, thus reducing the GPhC fees, the remaining pharmacies will have to contribute more.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

The point is, everything is increasing in price apart from remuneration. Fees, insurance, staff salaries, pensions, drug prices, rents, stationery, deliveries - this is another kick in the teeth while we are on the ground injured.

 

They should be there telling the government current working lvls are NOT SAFE, we need more pay to employ more staff. They fail to address the basic principal of minimum staffing levels for specific number of items dispensed. If their number one priority is protecting and safeguarding the public, THEY FAIL and dont deserve a massive pay rise.

 

Obviously they have to increase this because of the number of pharmacies that have closed in the last year.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I know it was fought against in government before, but I believe there should a dictated level of staffing hours within a pharmacy based on item numbers. It would be easy enough to generate a workflow model based on a time study, in my opinion, and use that as a basis to work out how much working hours are actually needed to fulfil a pharmacy's workload.

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

ouch

 

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

its a good job they dont sell masks and sanitiser... they would be up before themselves

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

How exactly do they regulate each pharmacy? Its just a joke to con more money out of the profession.

C A, Community pharmacist

They have an inspector, that may or may not visit unannounced at some point now, or possibly post Covid-19... which means they could have been furloughed

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