In an article published on right-wing website Guido Fawkes last week (June 18), the publication referred to Ms Owatemi’s declaration of employment and earnings as of June 14.
Ms Owatemi – Labour MP for Coventry North West and a member of both the Health and Social Care Committee and the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) – declared that she had been working as a locum pharmacist “on an ad hoc basis, as required” for a Tesco in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, since June 5.
The Guido Fawkes team portrayed Ms Owatemi’s “side hustle”, picturing her as a character from Breaking Bad – an award-winning TV series about a chemistry teacher who manufactures and sells crystal meth.
In the article, the blogsite wrote that Ms Owatemi “admitted to actively selling drugs”.
The Guido Fawkes article and related tweet attracted several comments on social media, including from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
The PDA said the article is “neither clever or funny” and praised Ms Owatemi for continuing to work as a pharmacist “while also serving her constituents”.
We agree this is neither clever or funny. During a pandemic @TaiwoOwatemi is continuing to practice as a health professional while also serving her constituents. Also hugely valuable that a member of @APPGPharmacy AND Health and Social Care Committee is practicing pharmacist.— The PDA (@the_pda) June 18, 2021
In response, the GPhC said: “We also agree that this type of tweet isn’t funny”.
We also agree that this type of tweet isn’t funny. @TaiwoOwatemi is a pharmacist on our register alongside thousands of other registered pharmacy professionals, who play a vital role in caring for patients and members of the public.— GPhC (@TheGPhC) June 21, 2021
Meanwhile, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said the article is “nonsense”.
A spokesperson for Guido Fawkes told C+D today (June 21): “Whingers on Twitter should get a life. It was a humorous reference to the unusual situation of a serving MP working as a part-time pharmacist. Anyone with an IQ above a cabbage would understand that.”
PDA's open letter to media organisations
Referring also to a comment in the Times describing Ms Owatemi working as a locum alongside her parliamentary work as the “equivalent of a Saturday job in a supermarket”, the PDA has written an open letter to address “the tone” of the articles.
The articles have “demonstrated what appears to be a lack of knowledge of our profession and what we do”, the PDA said.
“There are multiple examples of doctors that become MPs continuing to practice, including some who have served in cabinet, and quite rightly as health professionals they will also have a requirement to keep their practice current,” it stressed.
“However, we cannot recall any of those MPs being criticized for doing so in any form, let alone in the way some of the attacks on Ms Owatemi have been phrased. That an MP should continue to practice and care for patients in the middle of a pandemic should be praised, not condemned,” the PDA noted in the open letter.
C+D has approached Ms Owatemi’s constituency for comments.