The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has called on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to look at other ways of reducing its costs such as moving its headquarters out of Canary Wharf before it increases the fees for pharmacists, technicians and pharmacy premises.
In November last year the GPhC launched a 12-week consultation on proposals to increase fees for July 2019 to 2020, plans that would see pharmacists’ costs rise from £250 to £257 and technicians’ fees go from £118 to £121. Pharmacy premises fees will rise from £241 to £262.
Insisting it disagreed with the increases, the PDA said the rises would generate an additional £763,538 for the GPhC and urged the regulator to consider relocating its base to a cheaper location.
“Before increasing fees, the GPhC must explore other alternatives to reduce its costs, such as moving its headquarters out of Canary Wharf to a cheaper location. At the same time as reducing the GPhC’s outgoings, such a move could also make it less expensive for registrants to attend GPhC hearings in London, including the requirement to find overnight accommodation there,” the PDA said.
The PDA also said the GPhC needed to improve its regulation of pharmacy premises and ensure there is parity “in its approach to issuing sanctions to organisations and individuals,” while making sure “the fees it sets enable it to do that.”
There were also calls for the GPhC to improve the governance of council members’ remuneration by appointing an independent committee to review it and show that it has control over its expenditure on fitness-to-practice cases and litigation.
The PDA said a freedom of information request in 2017 revealed the GPhC spent nearly £200,000 on three legal cases which the PDA said appeared “to have been avoidable.”
A GPhC spokesperson told IPC the regulator was considering all responses to its consultation, including the PDA’s, and will publish a consultation report.
“We explained clearly through the consultation that this is the first time we have proposed an increase in our fees since 2015 and the proposed fees for pharmacy professionals are still lower than the fees we charged in 2011,” the spokesperson said.
“Over the last few years, we have been able to carry out our regulatory duties without increasing our fees. We have achieved this by sustained efficiency improvements and by using some of the financial reserves we held to cover the gap between our income and our outgoings.
“But as we continue to see increases in our workload and costs, our consultation proposed the need for additional income to make sure we have enough funds to carry out our regulatory functions in 2019-20.”
Picture: IR_Stone (iStock)