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COVID-19: 70% BAME pharmacy workforce haven't received risk assessment

More than two-thirds of pharmacy workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups haven’t had COVID-19 risk assessments from their employers, according to a survey.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called for “urgent action” to be taken, after a survey revealed that 70% of BAME pharmacists and pre-registration students have still not had access to “potentially lifesaving COVID-19 risk assessments”.

Carrying out risk assessments is not mandatory, but the NHS has advised healthcare employers to do this for its teams at the beginning of May.

The survey, which was conducted by the RPS and UK Black Pharmacist Association (UKBPA), also found that 78% of BAME respondents across primary and secondary care believe they are at risk from COVID-19. This is compared to 67% of white pharmacists and pre-regs.

The survey consulted 380 pharmacists and pre-registration students between June 12 and 22.

The RPS and UKBPA have written to ministers in England, Wales and Scotland, calling for greater support to be put in place for pharmacy workers from a BAME background.

It follows a Public Health England (PHE) report published earlier ithis month that recognised that COVID-19 disproportionately affects BAME groups.

The RPS and UKBPA will conduct another survey in a month to assess whether progress has been made, they said.

Sandra Gidley: Lack of risk assessments is “shocking”

RPS president Sandra Gidley said it is “shocking” that pharmacists, particularly from BAME backgrounds, have yet to be risk assessed.

“Employers must take urgent action to address this and ensure pharmacists and their team can continue looking after patients safely,” she added.

Ms Gidley said it is “essential” that pharmacy teams are “properly assessed so that those at high risk can be supported to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, while still providing a vital service to the NHS and the public.”

UKBPA: Pharmacy staff need to feel safe

UKBPA president Elsy Gomez Campos said it is “concerning to hear that pharmacy colleagues are still waiting for a COVID-19 risk assessment.”.

“Pharmacy staff need to feel safe if they are going to do their job without fear or anxiety,” she said.

“Our profession must rise to the challenge and respond to the RPS call of risk assessing pharmacy staff,” Ms Gomez Campos added.

What do you make of the RPS's findings?

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