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Racism in pharmacy: We're all accountable for tackling the lack of progress

It’s not enough to just not be racist when it comes to tackling racism in pharmacy – everyone has a role to play in turning words into action, C+D’s panel of experts have concluded

On July 15, C+D hosted its second annual racism in pharmacy webinar to discuss whether pharmacy professionals’ experience of racism had changed over the past 12 months.

Results of C+D’s accompanying survey reveal that pharmacy professionals feel that little to no progress has been made in a year, despite racial inequality being brought to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic and following the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the globe in 2020.

Chaired by C+D’s clinical and custom content editor Naimah Callachand, the webinar featured:

  • Amandeep Doll, head of professional belonging, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

  • Elsy Gomez Campos, founder and president of UK Black Pharmacists Association

  • Noel Kizere, clinical pharmacist, NHS Trust

  • Mahendra Patel, pharmacy and ethnic minority communities research lead, Principle Trial University of Oxford

  • Janice Perkins, chair of the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group

  • Roisin O'Hare, lead teacher practitioner pharmacist, Northern Ireland Universities Network


Turning words into action


While Ms Perkins stresses that racism is not an issue exclusive to pharmacy, each of the panellists agreed that every individual needs to be accountable for creating a more diverse and inclusive environment and tackling racism head-on.

Mr Kizere says: “It’s all good and well being ‘not racist’, but are you anti-racist? An anti-racist takes action; being ‘not racist’ is a passive thing.”

He suggests affirmative action – but avoiding “tokenism”, as Amandeep Doll, head of professional belonging at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society says – could be one way to tackle racism and promote greater inclusion within pharmacy.

The sentiment is echoed by Ms O'Hare, who stresses: “It's us, we make the change in our own workplaces, and if there's not somebody there already, maybe it's your job to stand up for whoever. You don't have to be from a particular minority group.”

Meanwhile, Ms Gomez Campos urges: “It is time for us to stop talking about [racism in pharmacy]. And it's time for us to start holding people to account.

“I'm talking about [holding] patients to account, and we're talking about holding members of our profession to account. Racial discrimination is illegal, it should not be accepted.”

Ms Perkins says senior leaders and managers have an important role to play in setting the culture and following up on concerns. “If you have a complaint about something you need to start from: Could it be true? Ask yourself what you can do about it and face into it at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Dr Patel says pharmacy professionals must start “right from the beginning” and “work with the students from ethnic minority communities” to help them progress in their pharmacy careers, so every pharmacy sector can have a workforce that is truly reflective of the general population.

Listen to the podcast below to hear the panellists’ suggestions as to how pharmacy can turn words into action and help towards eradicating racism from the profession for good.

You can listen to the podcast above. Alternatively, follow C+D's podcasts by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred app or on Soundcloud.



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