RPS losing members, annual accounts reveal

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RPS losing members, annual accounts reveal

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society lost over 1,500 members in 2021, its yearly accounts reveal.

The RPS Annual Review document, published on its website on May 5, marks the first time in several years that the Society has revealed its membership numbers, often described as a closely guarded secret. 

The total figure at the end of 2021 stood at 38,630 members, a drop of 1,564 members (3.8 per cent) since the end of the previous year and a 13.5 per cent drop since the Society published membership figures in 2015.

However, despite this decrease membership revenues grew slightly to £4,697,000 “owing to improved upgrades from Foundation Trainee (Associate) to Member”.

In addition to fully paid-up members, the total figure is believed to include pharmacy students in Great Britain, who receive free membership, as well as Boots pharmacists who have half their fees paid by the multiple. It also includes Associate and Overseas members, who pay lower fees.

While the RPS did not provide a breakdown of its membership when approached by Pharmacy Network News, the number of student members is thought to be well over 10,000.

In 2015 the Society revealed that out of 44,667 overall members, 26,925 were paying.

An analysis last year of the number of ballots sent out ahead of the 2021 national pharmacy board elections suggested a possible figure of 22,679 paying members, a decrease of 9.7 per cent from the 2019 election.

‘Relatively sheltered’ financially

In their introduction to the report, president Claire Anderson and chief executive Paul Bennett said that despite the continued challenges presented by the pandemic in 2021, the RPS was “relatively sheltered,” having spent the previous years building a “more resilient operational platform”.

They said that in 2021 the RPS exceeded its revenue budgets by £1.2m (five per cent) and that “throughout the year cash flow was stronger than budgeted”.

“Our operating surplus was £0.9m which was considerably stronger than budget and the previous year,” they added. 

A significant proportion of overall revenue came from the Pharmaceutical Press, the Society’s publishing arm, which took in £18.5m in revenues, up three per cent on the previous year.    

The publishing division is increasingly perceived as holding a dominant position within the overall organisation, a trend cited by some critics of the organisation’s recent decision to make its directors of education and membership redundant and combine the two directorships into one role.

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