I wish I could advise you; the sum of my experience with higher education amounts to 'watching everybody who goes through it complain about their living standards'. Naivety made my choice to avoid it for me, and it was only my resourcefulness that landed me safely in this job.
Yet, myself aside, it sounds like the benefits of the choice are making itself for you, whether it's easy or not. Going through with a new qualification is hard, and it's all worse still when a pessimistic viewpoint suggest that you're 'starting again'. Take some time to appreciate that everything you've done so far will help you here. Gonna be the best pharmacist squirrel ever~.
Thanks for the advice. For someone like me - a chump without a degree - my resume's pretty impressive; I think I'm going to explore what it might offer me before I make any decisions. And although my time off was denied, it's not like a transfer is - yet - an impossibility.