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RPS England chair urges action ‘now’ after ‘watershed’ racism report

The chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England has urged pharmacy teams to take action “now” after the publication of the “first-ever” Pharmacy Workforce Race Equality Standard report.  

Last month (September 28), RPS England chair Tase Oputu celebrated the “first-ever” Pharmacy Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report, calling it a “profoundly important call to action”.

Published the previous day (September 27), the report examined data from the 2022 NHS Staff survey and NHS Digital data on NHS trusts.

It found that “pharmacy team members of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) origin” experienced “more harassment, bullying and abuse, poorer career progression and greater…discrimination than white pharmacy team members”.

It also found that BAME pharmacy staff only made up 20% of staff in the highest NHS pay band in March 2022, despite 43% of NHS trust pharmacists in England being from a BAME background, compared to 18% of the general population.

While the data only covers “NHS-employed pharmacy teams” and not community pharmacy, the study also addressed the employers of “pharmacy professionals and team members working in community pharmacy and general practices”.

It said that community pharmacy employers should “link with national organisations”, review their data and take “action”.


“No quick fixes”


Ms Oputu said that the “long-awaited” report painted a “depressing picture of the experiences of black and minority ethnic pharmacy staff”.

In a blog posted earlier this week (October 2), Ms Oputu said that “sadly there are no quick fixes” and that it will instead “take sustained and consistent effort from all areas of the pharmacy world”, as well as “individuals changing their mindset and behaviours”.

She stressed that the report “is a watershed moment” as “now we have the data we cannot ignore or go back to not dealing with this problem”.

“The time for action is now”, she said, adding that “improving the experience of black and minority ethnic pharmacy staff…will directly improve patient care”.

The new report came after sector calls for an independent body to improve the way that racism in pharmacy is reported, including from founder and president of the UK Black Pharmacists Association Elsy Gomez Campos.

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