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Revealed: Two-thirds of pharmacy staff have faced racism from patients

Nearly two-thirds of pharmacy team members have experienced racism from patients in the last six months, a C+D survey can reveal.

A C+D survey that ran between June 18 and July 27 and examined racism in pharmacy across the UK has found that close to two-thirds of pharmacy staff (64%) have faced racism from patients in the last six months.

For black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) respondents, this increased to almost three-quarters (73%), the survey – which featured responses from 886 UK pharmacy professionals – found. Respondents from an Indian and African background reported a still higher frequency of racism from patients, at 76% and 78% respectively.

Asked about the types of explicit racial abuse they had experienced at the hands of patients, the overwhelming majority of BAME respondents (75%) said “verbal”, with similar percentages for individual ethnic minorities within this group. Among respondents from an Indian background, this figure was 80%. This compared to 66% for survey respondents overall, and 47% for those who identified as white.

The infographic above shows the percentage of all respondents who checked each box.

Examples of comments made by patients to pharmacy staff included being told to “go back to Africa”, being “threatened to be beaten” and patients “refusing to be served by me as I was wearing a headscarf and asking to be served by someone else”.

Death threats and racial slurs

Examples of racial discrimination from patients faced by pharmacy teams included patients “wanting to talk to another staff member”, something 54% of BAME respondents reported had happened to them. This was eight percentage points higher than for respondents overall (46%). 

Other types of racial discrimination frequently encountered by pharmacy teams was having patients make negative “assumptions about ability, character or behaviour”, something 45% of BAME and 38% of overall respondents had been through.

One respondent reported being told “Oh, that is a terrorist name isn't it?”, after a patient read their name on the responsible pharmacist sign, while another shared their experience of being sworn at and “told to go back to my own country” and a patient “threatening to kill me”. One pharmacy team member reported that they had been called a “white bastard”.

A number of respondents also mentioned patients refusing to believe they were the pharmacist or the manager and asking to speak to a white colleague instead.

Consistent with the findings on racist abuse from pharmacy colleagues that C+D reported on last week, religious abuse from patients was most frequently experienced by those who identified as Muslim. Just over a quarter (28%) of Pakistani respondents – all of whom listed their religion as Islam – said they had experienced religious discrimination. This compared to 11% of overall respondents, the majority of whom also said they were Muslim.

C+D is reporting on the finding of its recent survey on racism in pharmacy. Read last week’s news story and feature on our website, alongisde yesterday's coverage

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