The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will go ahead with October’s fee rise despite opposition from the sector.
Sixty per cent of 1,072 respondents to a GPhC consultation “disagreed or strongly disagreed” with the regulator’s plans to raise pharmacists’ registration fees by £10 to £250, it said in its council meeting notes last week (June 11). Sixty-five per cent were opposed to raising technician’s registrants fees by the same amount to £118, it added.
GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said the regulator had “carefully considered” the concerns of respondents, but stressed that the new fees were “necessary” to meet the growing costs of regulation.
An analysis of the GPhC’s consultation, which ran from February to May, revealed that the fee rises for pharmacists and technicians were only supported by 17 per cent and 16 per cent of respondents respectively.
Thirty-four per cent of respondents also disagreed with the £20 hike in premises fees to £241, compared to 26 per cent who supported it, the GPhC said.
The regulator highlighted that the increase followed an “extended period” when fees had either been reduced or stayed the same. The planned increases would leave fees lower than in 2011, when pharmacists were charged £262 and pharmacy technicians £142, it pointed out.
The consultation had revealed “broad support” for the GPhC’s approach to working out the fees, it said. But “numerous respondents” had argued that it was “unfair and disproportionate" that registrants working part-time had to pay a full fee.
The regulator responded that introducing a payment system based on the number of hours worked would be “complex and costly to administer”. The costs of regulating the sector - such as setting standards and investigating fitness to practise concerns - were not affected by the number of hours a registrant worked, it said.
Direct debit fees
The GPhC added that it would scrap its £15 administration fee for quarterly direct debits in response to “a number of respondents” who “expressed frustration” with the current payment system. This meant that pharmacists and technicians paying in this way would see the overall cost of their registration drop by £5, it stressed.
The regulator agreed with some respondents that offering a monthly direct debit scheme would also be "an attractive option". Although it pledged to look into this further, it would be "complex" to implement and would not be possible before the new fees were introduced in October, it said.