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GPhC: Consultation 'not a vote’ on fee rises

Duncan Rudkin: Fee rises reflect increasing cost of regulation

Chief executive Duncan Rudkin says the regulator's consultation on raising fees for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians was not intended to be a "referendum"


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has defended its decision to raise renewal fees for the first time in three years in the face of opposition from the sector.

Sixty per cent of 1,072 respondents to a GPhC consultation earlier this year had “disagreed or strongly disagreed” with the regulator’s plans to raise pharmacists’ registration fees from October by £10 to £250, council meeting notes revealed last week (June 11). Sixty-five per cent were opposed to raising technicians’ fees by the same amount to £118 and 34 per cent were against the £20 hike in premises fees to £241.

But GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin stressed the consultation “couldn’t be a vote” on fee levels. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for [the consultation] to be a referendum because we have to fund an appropriate level of regulation,” he told C+D in an exclusive interview on Monday (June 15).

It was right the regulator was “challenged” on its financial decisions, said Mr Rudkin. “We need consultations on fees to challenge us, to point out where we haven’t explained properly where we might have got thinking wrong - we are always open to that,” he said.

The GPhC had taken the feedback “in the spirit it was intended” and felt it had set the "right" fees, Mr Rudkin stressed. 

Mr Rudkin acknowledged that “nobody wants to pay more”, but he highlighted that the fees would still be less than they were in 2011, when pharmacists were charged £262 and pharmacy technicians £142. “Some elements of regulation are costing more – that does need to be funded,” he argued, pointing out that the GPhC was dealing with a "much bigger" fitness-to-practise caseload than in previous years. The number of cases dealt with by the GPhC in April 2015 was seven per cent higher than in April 2014.

Reader reaction

Responding to the C+D story, superintendent John Robinson said he “understood” the need to increase premises fees, but was “not so sure” about registration fees.

A community pharmacist posting on the C+D website as Super Pharmacist argued that the consultation had been a “waste of time”. “Have a consultation - the result of which is opposition to a hike - take it into consideration, then still go ahead with your original plan anyway,” they said.

Pharmacy technician Brian Smith agreed with the criticism, and pointed out that “people in some areas of pharmacy have had no pay rise and even pay cuts”. “Those that have agreed with the increases are obviously earning much more than the rest of us,” he added.


Do you think the fee rises are justified?

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Hackney Drug Dealer, Community pharmacist

Bless, the QUANGO showed 'due process' (and 'due disregard')

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Maybe the point of the consultation was the check the apathy among the profession? How many of those who have commented here actually bothered to reply to the consultation?.....yet seem to find the time to moan about the result? Maybe the result Mr Rudkin was looking for was only 1k of 46k actually yep, I can do what I like! Apathy among the masses is what is leading this decline in the profession.....there is a way out of it.

My continuing problem with pharmacy bodies is that they fundamentally do not appear to understand their core demographic. Pharmacists get home from working all day in stressful conditions without a break. When I worked in community full time I was so exhausted when I got home I could barely speak, let alone faff on responding to consultation after consultation or spend hours reading pages and pages of documentation about something or going to meetings in London every fortnight. I don't think its that pharmacists are willfully apathetic so they don't engage. I suspect that in the main they're too worn out to have the energy to respond. It's clear that pharmacy leaders need to do more to find creative ways to engage those people who have just gotten home after a 12 hour shift and all they want is a nice bath and some trashy TV. Ideally, the starting point would be really biting down and starting to improve working conditions, though I'm not holding my breath.

There should be a lesson for GPHC here. An open consultation on "where to have the Christmas meal" is normal with a majority decision accepted. An open consultation on fees increase is not smart unless you make clear what the purpose of the consultation is in advance - otherwise members feel ignored or cheated. Let's face it, the chance of a majority of respondents being in favour of any increase is very unlikely.

Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

And "turkeys don't vote for Christmas" Duncan lol

Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

PMSL Why have a consultation if you were going to do it anyway? Maybe to see if you could even get away with more? NHS pharmacists and community pharmacists will have been lucky to get even a 1% pay rise in the last 7 years, yet our employers are expecting us to give so much more. Now to kick us in the teeth, our professional body is forcing us to cough up more money. It's not like we can shop around for another professional body to register with, or is it? Mr Rudkin is correct in his statement that the new professional retention fee is less than what it was in 2011, but that was when we were paying the RPSGB and getting a nice journal full or adverts every week. The change in retetntion fees reflected that. It's hardly comparing like for like, I would have expected more from Mr Rudkin. That's like saying to an employee who worked 20 hours a week at £15ph in 2011 that they can take comfort in the fact that now in 2015 and working 40 hours a week at £10ph they are £100 a week better off! Not even George Gideon Osborne could make this up. I salute you and your doctors of spin Mr Rudkin! Would be interesting to note if GPhC salaries and pensions have increased since 2007, unlike the rest of us mortals.

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

An exercise in 'transparency' ... The GPhC can do what they like and this consultation was pointless. And, No, I didn't bother participating.

Pillman Uk, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Are there not over 46k registered pharmacists? Therefore the 60% of the 1k respondents is hardly a ground swell movement against the increases.

Still can't understand why they wasted time and no doubt some money organising this "consultation" just to go ahead and raise fees for everyone. Pharmacists already pay too much as it is. I'd be assuming a fee decrease would be more in order for everyone given the current financial climate. This council needs to engage with it's registrants more and actually listen to what they (the registrants) want from a council.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

So why are you consulting us? and how much did the consultation cost?

P M, Community pharmacist

post salaries, pension contributions bonuses etc from the top down , also job roles that would be an interesting read...

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