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COVID-19: Pharmacies must complete staff risk assessments in weeks

NHS England and Improvement has asked community pharmacy contractors to complete COVID-19 risk assessments for BAME employees and other at-risk groups in the next few weeks.

Employers must make “significant progress” in developing COVID-19 risk assessments for staff within “the next two weeks”, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) said in a letter last week (June 24).

NHSE&I set a deadline for these to be completed for “at-risk groups”, including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff, within four weeks.

The letter asked employers to make the progress of their risk assessment work – including the number of assessments carried out, the percentage of the workforce given an assessment and the number of BAME risk assessments completed – “available to all staff”.

The letter contains links to resources for employers to use when risk-assessing their staff, and an annex highlighting examples of good practice. These included “creating a strategic risk stratification of the workforce, to target those at increased vulnerability first” and giving “clear direction that this is an organisational priority by the leadership team”.

Last week, a survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and UK Black Pharmacists Association (UK BPA) revealed that 70% of BAME pharmacists and pre-registration students had still not had access to “potentially lifesaving COVID-19 risk assessments”.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said last week (June 26) that it is “concerned about the higher COVID-19 risks identified for BAME individuals”.

“We support the need for these risk assessments, particularly for those people who are in more vulnerable groups,” it added.

PSNC director of operations and support Gordon Hockey said there is “urgent work for some to do”. The negotiating body is “discussing with NHSE&I the contractual implications of this work for community pharmacy”, he added.

Risk assessments were among seven recommendations detailed in a Public Health England report on the impact of COVID-19 on  black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups earlier this month (June 16).

Have you completed a COVID-19 risk assessment?

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