Membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has grown by 3.4% in the 12 months to June 2015, the second annual increase in a row, with the largest relative rise seen among pre-registration trainees.
The latest figures, released by the Society to The Pharmaceutical Journal, show total membership climbed to 44,667, of which 26,925 are paying members, Fellows, associates and pharmaceutical scientists — a rise of 2.5% among this group compared with the previous 12 months.
The Society saw strong growth in junior members. Pre-registration associates, who pay a lower rate, rose by 19.5% to 2,865. The number of student members, whose membership is free apart from overseas students, grew by 2.5% to 14,877.
Despite the numerical rise in RPS membership, the proportion of all pharmacists who are members or Fellows dropped slightly, from 53.5% to 53.1% between June 2014 and June 2015, as a consequence of the growing size of the workforce. Nevertheless, projections suggest the share of pharmacists who are members should rise for the first time since the demerger by the end of 2015.
Around nine out of ten (91%) current pre-registration students are associate members. A total of 93% of all members renewed their membership in 2015, compared with 91% in 2014.
RPS president Ash Soni says: “[The] RPS continues to develop products which members find relevant and non-members realise they should have access to and therefore see the increasing value of being part of a growing organisation.
“For medical professional bodies, renewal rates average out at 89% so our renewal rate of 93% is encouraging for future growth.”
He says the large proportion of pre-registration trainees joining the Society and the increasing number upgrading their membership after qualification were “a major vote of confidence from the profession for an organisation that is voluntary”.
Soni adds that the Society will target year-on-year growth in the proportion of pharmacists who are members. “Working with and for our members we want to continue to develop and deliver an excellent and compelling offer that will encourage more members to join and continue this growth in membership numbers.”
Renewal was highest among primary care and industry pharmacists, of whom 97% renewed, compared with 89% of academic pharmacists. In England, 93% renewed, compared with 94% in Scotland and 95% in Wales.
Since the for
mation of the RPS and its voluntary membership following the split from the regulator, the number of RPS members and Fellows has fallen as a proportion of all UK registered pharmacists each year, although the decline has slo
wed in recent years and is expected to reverse by 2016.