As a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Faculty I have recently renewed my membership at a total cost of £192 plus £75, respectively. The fee is too high and is not comparable to other professions.
Although the Royal College of Nursing fee, at £196.35, may look comparable to the RPS fee, it is not. The RPS is not a trade union and does not provide indemnity insurance. My fees at the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (indemnity + union) is £188 which, with the RPS fees, adds up to £380 (plus Faculty fee). The higher British Medical Association fee (£443) may be able to be justified by the higher median salary of doctors and because it is also a trade union. The RPS fees cannot be so justified.
Since pharmacists are living with reduced salaries as a result of the increase in schools of pharmacy and the resultant tsunami of graduates (and this will only get worse), the RPS should review its fees.
One area it can definitely reduce costs is by scrapping the weekly hard copies of The Pharmaceutical Journal. This will also be environmentally friendly. Members who opt out of receiving the print journal should pay a reduced fee.
Patrick Stubbs, director of marketing and membership at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, responds: We have maintained membership fees at the same level for the past four years. We have also developed the number and quality of member resources and services included in that fee. With many other bodies additional services are paid for on top of the membership fee.
To help members manage their costs they can pay their fees monthly by direct debit or, to receive a discounted fee of £182, they can set up an annual direct debit. Fees are also tax deductible.
Membership provides access to professional support, guidance, best practice standards, thought leadership and experts from all sectors and areas of practice. Members receive subscriptions to The Pharmaceutical Journal and Clinical Pharmacist, an annual copy of ‘Medicines ethic and practice’, access to a confidential enquiry service, local practice forums, training and national events, support alerts, information bulletins and discounts on Pharmaceutical Press titles.
The RPS campaigns on members’ behalf, promoting best practice in pharmacy and works with governments in England, Scotland and Wales to ensure that pharmacy continues to play its vital role in the NHS and the provision of healthcare in the UK.
When compared with royal colleges (without union functions), which is the role we now undertake, it perhaps becomes clearer that the fees represent good value. For example, on top of the British Medical Association fees most doctors will also be paying a royal college fee, as well as registration fees with the General Medical Council.
The fee for ongoing Faculty membership will provide members with access to the Faculty support service in 2015, to support and guide their ongoing professional development based on their Faculty professional development plan with the guidance of RPS mentors. It will also provide opportunities for you to develop your portfolio further by working with the Faculty and collaborative working opportunities via our affiliated groups, particularly through research and publication opportunities to share best practice and improve patient care. Faculty membership is also tax deductible.
All things considered, I believe the fees represent good value. However, we are not complacent and strive to be more efficient and deliver more each year.