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RPS members and fellows number plummets by 14 per cent

Business A total of 28,000 members and fellows decided to stay with the RPS in 2012, down from 32,530 in 2011, while only 16 people decided to join as a pharmaceutical scientist, a new category created by the Society for this year.

The number of members and fellows renewing their Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) membership this year has plummeted by 14 per cent, figures have revealed.

A total of 28,000 members and fellows decided to stay with the RPS in 2012, down from 32,530 in 2011, while only 16 people decided to join as a pharmaceutical scientist, a new category created by the Society for this year.

"I'm confident we are well-placed to continue to maintain and grow the membership," RPS president Martin Astbury

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Despite the drop in members and fellows, overall RPS membership has risen from 36,977 to 40,695 in 2012, due to a three-fold increase in student members benefitting from free membership, rising from 4,340 to 11,814.

The figures, released by the RPS last week, show that 56 per cent of RPS members hail from the community pharmacy sector, while England makes up the lion's share of pharmacists choosing to join the RPS with 78 per cent.

The number of RPS members equates to just over 60 per cent of the 45,486 registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), although the RPS number could include non-registered members such as those who have retired or live overseas.

RPS president Martin Astbury welcomed the membership figures, saying: "The RPS is only in its second full year and it's very encouraging that in these challenging economic times the majority of members have renewed, even though some employers have chosen not to reimburse their pharmacists' membership fees."

"I'm confident we are well-placed to continue to maintain and grow the membership," Mr Astbury added.

The Co-operative Pharmacy decided to axe its contribution to its employees' RPS membership costs this year, while Boots decided to halve its contributions.

Do the latest RPS membership figures surprise you?

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Chad Harris, Community pharmacist

Not surprised in the least, if it wasn't for the MRPharmS I would have gone too. I never use the website and the the PJ gets thinner and thinner and carries nothing as good as the C&D which is actually relevant to my practice. I have no interest in articles such as 'Scotland and Wales lead the IT game' and 'Oral formulations' and 'Quality of herbal products' and 'Credentialling advanced level practice. The PJ is becoming a very niche product with few jobs and nothing that you can't get from here or other places. Such a pity. It used to be so good.
I also find it annoying to have to stay in the RPS to use my post-nomials. The techs get booted out, yet are still RegPharmTech. Why can't we be RegPharm or MGPhC.

Gary Paragpuri, Community pharmacist

Thanks for the feedback Chad, but I'd like to add a comment on the situation while wearing my 'pharmacist hat' rather than my 'C+D Editor hat'.

First, I'm not a member of the RPS, not because I don't want to be, but because I don't believe the RPS has done enough to convince me that it wants to create a true royal college.

The sector is crying out for a strong professional organisation that champions elitism and professionalism and supports the development of professional career pathways. Entry should be by examination only and members should have aspirations to develop their professional skills. And I want the organisation to feel personal, to feel like it's personally supporting me to become a better pharmacist, a stronger leader and a more effective practitioner.

And I strongly believe that the RPS should become this organisation.

Such an organisation, I believe, would be respected by government, the public, the media and by its members. Its views would be sought after and it would have clout.

The trouble is that, at the beginning, only a few thousand may choose to join such an organisation. But that shouldn't matter - give those few thousand a great experience and, over time, plenty more will want to join. It will take longer to build critical mass, but the end product would be a much stronger, more unified and greatly respected royal college-type organisation that would elevate pharmacy to the top table.

Do that and I'll join tomorrow.

Jonathan Burton, Superintendent Pharmacist

I respect your views on the RPS needing to adopt a true Royal College model.

In my view, with the current challenges our profession faces (there are many), the future of the RPS is as much about the journey as it is the destination right now.

Adrian Tebby, Community pharmacist

Oh come now Mr Paragpuri you haven't got where you are today without knowing that the headline associated with this piece does more than 'simply reporting the membership numbers'!

I agree with Messrs Burton, Phillips and Wood - given the current environment the RPS finds itself operating in then I'd say it was doing pretty well, unlike the inference of the word 'plummet' in the headline and opening sentence of the article. The rest of the article is factual and fine, I'll agree, but not those first two lines!

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Well put Jonathan!.

Come on C&D cut the RPS some slack - its doing a much, much better job than the RPSGB of old.


Gary Paragpuri, Community pharmacist

Graham, the piece makes no comment on whether the new RPS is doing a better or worse job than the old RPSGB. We're simply reporting the membership numbers.

In recent weeks, we've had two in-depth features looking at the RPS at and at

James Wood, Superintendent Pharmacist

Agree with you both. Encouraging members numbers and a supply for the future. Some really good progress made in just two years by the RPS - a relatively short space of time for this type of organisation.

Jonathan Burton, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'd say 'plummets' is a bit hash! In the context of the current economic climate and major community pharmacy employers ceasing their contributions towards membership fees I'd say the RPS is holding it's own in terms of member numbers AND importantly is showing some real vision in it's future planning with a constructive and successful partnership with the BPSA which will introduce the next generation of pharmacists to the benefits of membership.

Gary Paragpuri, Community pharmacist

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for your response but I think the story and headline is fair.

The piece is about membership income, so once you take away the student numbers (not because they're not valuable, but because they don't pay a membership fee), there has been a substantial drop in membership income.

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