The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) received a total of 1,322 FtP concerns against pharmacists between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, according to figures obtained by C+D through a freedom of information (FOI) request.
The FOI data provided a breakdown of the concerns raised against pharmacists according to the different ethnicity groups on the GPhC register.
Almost two-thirds (59%) of the concerns raised against pharmacists were against black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) professionals, who together made up 48% – 28,659 of 59,373 – pharmacists on the GPhC register during April 1 2019 to March 31 2020 financial year.
Close to a third (29%) of concerns related to pharmacists from a white background, who in 2019/20 made up a total of 42% (25,228) of pharmacists on the register.
The ethnicity of 9% (5,486) of pharmacists on the register in 2019/20 was “not stated or recorded”. Concerns made against this category amounted to 12% (161) of the overall number.
A smaller number of concerns that were submitted to the regulator, 131, related to pharmacy technicians – of which there were 24,878 on the register in 2019/20.
Of these concerns, 76% (100) were against white pharmacy technicians, while 13% (17) were made against pharmacy technicians from an Indian background. White pharmacy technicians represented 83% of those on the register, while pharmacy technicians from an Indian background made up 6%.
Ethnic minorities over-represented
The FOI data analysed by C+D revealed that in 2019/20 some ethnic minority groups were over-represented in FtP concerns relative to their population size on the register.
As of 2019/20, there were 169 pharmacists identifying as “mixed – white and black” on the register, but this group had seven concerns raised against them in this period. This number of concerns is 86% higher relative to the expected number based on this ethnic group's population size on the register.
“Asian – Pakistani” was the second most over-represented ethnic group in FtP concerns in 2019/20. This group constituted 9% of the pharmacists on the register, but received 14% of overall concerns, representing a 52% increase over expected concerns relative to the population size on the register.
Those who identified as “black – African” represented 6% of the register, but had 9% of concerns raised against them, meaning the percentage of concerns related to this group was 41% relative to the population size on the register.
GPhC: “Disproportionately high number of concerns about BAME professionals”
At the end of last month (October 29), the GPhC launched a consultation on its new strategy on how to better manage concerns raised against pharmacy professionals.
As part of this strategy – the consultation for which will run until January 21 next year – the regulator’s objective is to understand “why it receives a higher number of concerns about BAME professionals than should be expected”.
In its consultation document, the GPhC said that, in 2019/20, 55% of the concerns it received were from members of the public, 17% from other healthcare professionals and 7% from employers.
“We are considering collecting more data about the sources of concerns, to help us take the appropriate action to deal with any bias that we discover,” it added.