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GPhC to review fees in face of £600k deficit

 The GPhC will present a "package of proposals" to reduce its deficit, including a review of its fee levels, in February, says chief executive Duncan Rudkin

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin says the regulator will consider a "package of proposals" to boost its funds, including a fee increase


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will review its registrant fee levels in light of its £600,000 deficit, C+D has learned.

The regulator would consider a "package of proposals" to boost funds at its next council meeting in February, including a review of its fee levels and structures, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D in an exclusive interview on Friday (November 14).

Mr Rudkin said the GPhC's £616,000 deficit, revealed in papers published ahead of its council meeting on Thursday (November 13), was expected to be even higher due to the need to fund complaints handling and its new premises inspection model.

Although it was too early to say how the GPhC would combat the deficit, there were a number of potential measures, including reducing costs by dealing with complaints more efficiently, said Mr Rudkin. He defended the GPhC's decision to put funds into the new inspection regime.

"It's right for us to invest in developing an inspection model that's more comprehensive and robust. We need to make sure that we can explain and challenge ourselves on the cost of doing that, but I don't think it's something that we feel is optional," he told C+D.

Mr Rudkin also predicted there would be further costs involved with the continuing fitness-to-practise model, which will require pharmacists and technicians to prove their competence on an ongoing basis. "It's right that we do that because the public need [a] greater level of assurance than they ever had [before] as they're expecting more from pharmacists," he said.

The GPhC spent £11 million between April and September, it said in its papers, including more than £3m on its premises inspections and fitness-to-practise cases.

The cost to renew registration is currently £240 for pharmacists, £108 for pharmacy technicians and £221 for registered pharmacies, which accounted for more than £9m of funds to the GPhC in the same period.

The GPhC has not increased fees since 2011, when it voted to raise the rate for pharmacists by 2 per cent. In February, the GPhC pledged to freeze registrants' fees for a year, despite an estimated £4m rise in costs over the previous year. It was too early to determine whether fees would remain unchanged for 2015-16, Mr Rudkin said at the time.

What else could the GPhC do to clear its deficit? 

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Karen Milne, Community pharmacist

The current GMC registration fee for a GP is £390 per year. The average GP salary is in the region of £45 to £60 per hour I believe. The GPhC commands £240 yearly from pharmacists who are lucky these days to earn £20 to £25 an hour. I would be very interested to hear from the GPhC as to why Pharmacy regulatory work is more expensive for a Pharmacist and why this is such a significantly higher percentage of salary.

Howard McNulty, Other healthcare professional

I attended the 7th annual Regulation event in Glasgow on Oct 27 attended by all UK Regulators including GPhC where a keynote address was given by Professor Zubin Austin a pharmacist with a psychology qualification from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto on the topic of Competency drift – ‘ The link between competency and disengagement.
His thesis was professionalism had been diminished by over regulation. People now view work as a job and feel constrained by too many standards and have disengaged. He said there is no evidence that any of regulators tools such as CPD had made an impact on poor practice or would have stopped Shipman. He cited several cases of poor behaviour that diminished patient care but met current Regulator standards. His talk resonated with many of the 300 people from across the UK in the audience.
He was working with Ontario regulators to change inspections from being adversarial tick box to being mainly constructive unrecorded mentoring dialogue. Some inspectors felt unable to become Practice Coaches and had left.
Its rare for pharmacy to be given such a high profile in a national UK wide multi-professional event with a Health Minister in attendance. Pity there weren't many senior pharmacists there from beyond Scotland
At previous events I have attended there had been talk of common standards for all health professions and fewer regulators, maybe only one or two, but that wasn't mentioned.
My suggestion would be to move for one regulator and a set of basic standards for all professions with empowered professional bodies to lead re-engagement and deal with professional complexities.
As an ex-pharmacist now working as a public partner it seems the public are confused by the number of regulators and different standards they have and what seems like varying penalties for similar failings or to whom and how to complain.

People really need one set of simple standards they know to expect from everyone concerned with their care and one organisation to contact to make a complaint.
As regulation is for the safety of the public, perhaps the public should decide what they want from regulation rather than the regulators who may have vested interests in self preservation and expansionism.

Martin Astbury, Community pharmacist

It has been abundantly clear for years (as far back as recognised by the OLD RPSGB council) that the registrants subsidise the premises fee.

If there is to be any increase it should only be in the area of the premises fee.
If the premises fee was increased 10 fold then it would still be contributing below its fair share towards pharmacy regulation.

I know the RPS will continue to argue for pharmacist and technicians to pay a lower proportion of this cost of regulation.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm not sure a 10-fold increase in premises fees is a reasonable premise! But the key point, surely, is that the GPhC are an inefficient bureaucracy with an ever-growing footprint. We should be arguing them back into their box not funding their expansion?

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

So the GPhC has introduced a new inspection scheme with no meaningful consultation with their regulants (as key stakeholders) or the public (whom they claim they are protecting) and with no evidence based to justify their actions. Why should we be forced to bankroll this folly?Their decisions are biased, arbitrary and final. Totally unacceptable

Jason Peett, PCT pharmacist

When there is a 'proven' FTP investigation or if a premises inspection is required outside the allotted cycle then the individual or company concerned should have a 'premium' levied on top of the regular fee.

The MHRA have post inspection fees which appear to be linked to how long the inspectors took - so a site needing more attention pays more!

Just an idea!

VAL MADDEN, Hospital pharmacist

Well I would be interested to know how the current Cpd actually proves professional competence .It largely looks at recording and marks boxes filled in.My colleagues have all had marks in high 90s even when they were derisive of the content and chose to record those things easy to record rather than things that were of truevalue to their practice . Yet more costs to be involved in a worthless process.

There is an inequality between techs and pharmacists fees even though certainly in the hospital sector there is a parity in salaries and I understand community colleagues have falling or like us static salaries . Maybe it is time to look at this .

Naresh Chauhan, Community pharmacist

Just looking at the last Annual report on the GPhC website:

Would love to have a similar pension pot for my pharmacy staff who too give their best for pharmacy.
Would be interesting to see how exactly the GPhC performace is monitored by the 'Council'.

Neeraj Salwan, Superintendent Pharmacist

What is the point in commenting, they read these comments and do nothing, GPhC have knocked the stuffing out of most pharmacists( just read the comments) beaten into submission and they can now go in for the kill- perfect tactical play...

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

What is the point in commenting, they read these comments and do nothing, GPhC have knocked the stuffing out of most pharmacists( just read the comments) beaten into submission and they can now go in for the kill- perfect tactical play...

Sulwan..Most pharmacists are just full of hot air. They talk the talk but are too sacred to act. This was evident in my days as a locum and now as a contractor.

Its the profession at fault and not the GPHC......!!

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I agree totally. We can criticise those who govern and all that goes with it but it is pointless now complaining. We gave far too much ground away over the years when real leadewrship mattered and was found absent.

I pity those yet to qualify with 50-60k debt and even lower rates of pay...into a non professional arena. The government of today and the future will go on under paying and everyone will cut each others' throats instead of doing something.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Which category you belong to "TalkTalk" or "Virgin Media" ??

Easy to point at what people are not doing, but hard to point at what YOU are able to do or doing that makes you comment/ stand out from others. Prove it you belong to the second class or just go back to your detention room.

Stuart Davidson, Community pharmacist

Surely the fees gained from the thousands of new pharmacists that are getting churned out will more than fill this gap!!!

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Yes, you would have thought so. What other business has a guaranteed 100% share of a growth market and still makes a 600,000 loss, in the full knowledge that regulants will have no option than to pay higher fees to bail them out?

Cancel christmas, everyone. We'll probably need every penny we can get to pay for this year's fees!

T D, Superintendent Pharmacist

We had a GPhC inspection in October 2013, the inspector was new and unsure of the criteria. She was very happy at the visit and a few days later when we got our 'satisfactory' report in the post I queried why we didn't meet a 'good' pharmacy criteria. The inspector was rather embarrassed and said no pharmacy at that stage had received a good or excellent rating and she wasn't allowed to give this. She wasn't even able to give me details of which criteria we missed of a good pharmacy. She asked me to feed this back to her superior inspector which I did, I did not even receive a response.

I believe things are better now from talking to other owners which have had inspections since but this is an area where money was clearly not spent wisely.

Either way looking forward to the pending double hit of a premesis increase and a pharmacist increase.

I don't have the full facts but why is the GPhc based in London one of the most expensive cities in the world with the highest rents for its HQ. There was a recent move from Lambeth why wasn't a move out of London considered???

Pharmacor ., Community pharmacist

Perhaps have a tiered system for community pharmacies if you own more than 50 you they you pay higher premises costs ? 500 or more a higher fee and so on.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""I don't have the full facts but why is the GPhc based in London one of the most expensive cities in the world with the highest rents for its HQ. There was a recent move from Lambeth why wasn't a move out of London considered???"""

They don't care whether we care or not. They want to be in a posh place, pay themselves a hefty salary, indulge in expensive habits etc. Who are we to ask them? We have no powers but to fund there indulgence and in return get punished for even a silliest of the mistakes. This is the current affairs in Pharmacy Sector.

Gareth Rowe, Community pharmacist

Does the GPhC get government funding or are we paying for them to spend more of our money policing us and for explaining to us why we can't be good at the moment???

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Good point GR. When new regulators are established, the Govt has usually given them some pump priming - $$$ to get started.Guess what? Didn't happen in this case. Pharmacy the poor relation as usual

[email protected], Pre-reg graduate

The GPhC has made mockery of the powers given to itself.

1. Why get in to swanky new place, when you had a chance get out of Lambeth and downgrade to a decent place with less costs?

2. Unnecessary expenditure on the FtP cases, most of which could have been closed with just a warning. Last week only they have declared that it is impossible to close all the cases within the time frame they had assured they will (WITH LOT OF CONFIDENCE then but with lot of EXCUSES NOW)

3. Again, lot of wastage of money in inventing new inspection model without any clear objectives towards the rating !! They don't even compare across the board.

There are many other unnecessary expenditures, which will go on and on. So, the GPhC has put itself in a mess, KNOWINGLY, that they cannot handle. So, now it will put all the burden of funding on to the registrants. What a funny scenario, we have no say in what/ how much we pay and how that is being spent ???

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

We pay them to show us how pathetic and miserable we are !!! while they sit in a comfortable posh place in London and keep experimenting on finding new ways to sc**w us.

K Brown, Locum pharmacist

Another nail in the coffin of this profession.

THB _B, Community pharmacist

perhaps the planned shift to lovely new premises has added a little bit of cost?(!)

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