The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) may consider moving to cheaper accommodation as pharmacists express concerns over its proposed fees increase.
Some 70% of more than 5,000 individuals and bodies who responded to a consultation on registration fees disagreed with proposed fee rises for pharmacists, figures from the GPhC have revealed. But the council is still proposing to increase the fees as planned.
The proposed increase in fees for pharmacist renewal fees for 2019/2020 was £7, from £250 to £257. But of 5,409 responses, which included those from organisations, 70% opposed this increase.
As part of the consultation, which ran from November 2018 to January 2019, 66% of responders disagreed with a proposed increase of pharmacy technician entry and renewal fee of £3 from £118 to £121, and 51% opposed a proposed increase of £21 for the registered pharmacy entry and renewal fee from £241 to £262.
Some 41% of respondents disagreed that the proposals were in line with the GPhC’s fees policy.
Of the 5,236 individuals who responded to the consultation, 3,868 were pharmacists, and 1,368 were pharmacy technicians.
In its response to the consultation figures, contained in GPhC council meeting papers, due to be discussed at a council meeting on 7 March 2019, the GPhC said it would “continue to challenge our costs and improve efficiency and effectiveness”.
“Our annual plan for 2019/2020 makes clear some of the measures that we intend to consider to achieve this goal,” it adds.
“Now included within our work for next year is the initiation of a review of our current accommodation and future options. We are also intending to continue to make improvements to our systems to improve service experience and improve efficiency and effectiveness.
“And we will continue to challenge our costs more generally, and our 2019/2020 budget includes a further £720,000 efficiency saving.”
The GPhC’s head office is on the 26th floor at 25 Canada Square, in London’s Canary Wharf.
The 42-storey skyscraper will shortly be sold for £1.2bn according to press reports.
Asked by The Pharmaceutical Journal in February 2019 whether the GPhC could save money by moving out of its Canary Wharf headquarters, council chair Nigel Clarke said it had negotiated a good deal on the office space, but that “doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t keep that under review”.
In the council papers to discuss the 2019/2020 fees, the GPhC says: “We recognise the financial climate and uncertainty in which our registrants are working, whether that be in community pharmacy, primary care, hospitals or other settings. Our decisions in previous years to freeze fees and also to avoid significant increases in this year took into account the financial challenges of individuals on our register and the sector at large.
“The GPhC faces similar financial challenges and, in order to continue effectively in our role in protecting the public, we need to take necessary steps to increase our fees.”
It concludes that “having considered the consultation responses” it proposes increasing the fees as planned.