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PSNI plans fees hike after overcharging pharmacists

PSNI overcharged pharmacists a total of £340,000 over the past 20 years

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland plans to increase registration fees from £372 to £398 next year

The Northern Ireland pharmacy regulator plans to raise pharmacists' registration fees by £26, despite overcharging some of them for the past 20 years.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) plans to increase initial registration fees and annual retention fees from £372 to £398 next year, a rise of almost 7%, it said in a consultation document published last week (November 30).

In October, pharmacists in the country demanded the regulator pay back the £340,000 it had overcharged "specific groups" of registrants over the past 20 years, including initial registration fees for pharmacists who qualified between 1995 and 2014. PSNI believes it would not be “appropriate or equitable” to refund the money, it said in September.

Overcharging students £50

In last week's consultation document, PSNI clarified that it had been overcharging pharmacy students nearly £50 to join the register over the last 10 years. Since 2005, it has been charging student registration fees of £194, despite only legally being allowed to charge £145, it said.

It now wants to raise these fees to £206, it said.

It also revealed that since 2009, it has been charging students £89 over the legal limit to sit the pre-registration exam, and £124 over the limit to retake the exam. PSNI now plans to increase both charges from £164 to £174, it said.

Under the proposals, pharmacists in Northern Ireland would pay £148 more for their annual registration fees than their English equivalents.

"Ridiculous" fees

Bernard Griffin, pharmacy manager of Ardoyne Pharmacy in Belfast, branded the proposed fees "ridiculous". Pharmacists in the country should be paying less, not more, he said.

Mr Griffin does not plan to respond to the consultation because PSNI will "[n]ever listen" to the views of pharmacists, he told C+D. "They’ll do what they want," he added.

PSNI said the "modest increase" in fees – the first since 2009 – would be combined with "cost reduction initiatives" to help "bring the organisation back to a break-even position".

Pharmacists in Northern Ireland have until January 25 to respond to the consultation by downloading a response form from PSNI's website, it added.


What do you think of the proposed fee increase?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The PSNI probably doesn't have the funds to refund the monies that they took illegally. I had a similar episode with the RPSGB of old, they took more from my bank on a Direct Debit than they were entitled to. Took me 9 months to get a refund. It's theft, plain and simple. Why not invoke the notorious NHS "clawback", simply pay them less next year depending on how much you have been over charged. Let them then argue that in court!. You need to stand together my pharmafraternity, unity in numbers.

bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

Big organisations like this are basically sticking up their middle finger at pharmacists, knowing nobody will stand up to them. Should we allow this to happen?

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacists, if they Overcharged the legal amount, how come they have not been prosecuted for doing so? Is there more to this story than the article states? It feels like only part of the story, not fully researched.

Rahim Mawani, Manager

Brothers and Pharmacists of Northern Ireland, stand up for your rights, Perhaps a day out for the PSNI in the High Court over the £340,000 overcharge may sway their minds in listening a bit more. If i overcharged my Patients and the NHS (not that I would), and claimed that I believed it would not be “appropriate or equitable” to refund the money because i had already spent it, I'm sure that I would be standing in the dock facing a stiff sentence.

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