RPS’ membership fell in 2021 compared with the previous year, new figures produced by the body for the first time have revealed.

In its annual report, published on 5 May, the RPS said the organisation had 38,630 members in 2021 – a drop of 1,564 members since the end of the previous year.

This is the first time the RPS has published its membership figures and comes after some members voiced concerns over the body’s lack of transparency.

According to the report, there has been growth in student, fellow and pharmaceutical scientist membership, however, associate membership ‘remains a challenge’.

Increase in revenue

Despite this decrease in membership, total revenue of the organisation grew to £4.6m which RPS owed to ‘improved upgrades from foundation trainee (associate) to member’.

RPS said its total revenue for 2021 was ‘strong’ having increased by £1.6m in 2021, from £23.6m to £25m.

Commenting on the report, Paul Bennett, RPS chief executive, said: ‘We’re delighted to have had such a strong year financially in 2021, despite a number of challenges very much beyond our control, not least the global Covid-19 pandemic and its knock-on effects.

‘With the rise in inflation, energy prices soaring, and the hangover from the pandemic, it is not a surprise that many have had to tighten their budgets’.

He added: ‘We’ve recently addressed queries about Royal College status, FIP membership and recent restructuring in the organisation to coincide with our five-year strategy published in March 2021, and strongly believe membership numbers and account figures will be healthy once again.’

RPS has also announced the appointment of communications consultancy, Luther Pendragon, to carry out an independent review into the participation of members and RPS’ communications concerning decisions they take on behalf of the profession.

This comes as RPS has been criticised for a lack of transparency around its decision to leave the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

The RPS later wrote a letter to its members on 19 March explaining the body's financial motives for leaving, touching on the ‘additional £53,000 in meeting attendance costs, travel and accommodation in 2019’ it had spent.

Since then, FIP has disputed some of the membership fee claims made by RPS.

Meanwhile, former director of pharmacy and member experience – Robbie Turner – and director of education and professional development – Gail Fleming – left their roles in RPS in February and March of this year.

This came soon after media speculation from the pharmacy press claiming that Mr Turner and Ms Gail Fleming were to be made redundant.

In response to these rumours, Claire Anderson, president of RPS, said any changes to the executive team would not be about ‘cost savings’.