Professor Patel – a pharmacist and member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board and C+D’s clinical advisory board – is collaborating with Lloydspharmacy on the multiple’s work to better support its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the face of higher COVID-19 risks, he told C+D today (June 8).
A recent Public Health England review, Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19, published last week (June 2) and an Office for National Statistics report released last month (May 7) both point to evidence suggesting that BAME people are “at greater risk” from COVID-19 than those of white ethnicity.
Steve Howard, clinical standards director and superintendent pharmacist at Lloydspharmacy, which has more than 1,500 branches in the UK, told C+D last week (June 5) that the multiple is concerned by these reports.
“We are pleased to now be working with Professor Mahendra Patel, a highly respected academic pharmacist and national BAME champion, who is advising us in our approach to both risk assessment and reduction,” Mr Howard said.
Professor Patel approached Lloydspharmacy at the end of last month, to ask how he could support their BAME work in light of the higher COVID-19 risks faced by this group.
“Discussions are at an early stage” in terms of what this work will look like, Professor Patel told C+D.
However, it is likely to cover NHS England's recommendation “around carrying out a risk assessment within the NHS for BAME and vulnerable staff” to evaluate how they are impacted by COVID-19, he explained.
Professor Patel says he will work with Lloydspharmacy to understand how this work “can best be implemented for all to engage with confidence and trust”. He will also “gather information around if and how COVID-19 has an impact on staff”, which could help Lloydspharmacy better support its teams “in the longer term as well”.
“I look forward to supporting and guiding Lloydspharmacy around how to effectively and meaningfully help its own BAME workforce and the wider community in terms of reducing risk,” Professor Patel said.
He hopes to be able to do this “through sharing some of my many years of experience and knowledge of working with the different BAME communities at local, regional and national levels,” he added.
Professor Patel told C+D he is open to similar collaborations on BAME issues with other multiples and pharmacy bodies. He was officially appointed pharmacy lead for the British Association for Physicians of Indian Origin last month and is a member of the UK Black Pharmacists Association – a membership he says it is “an honour” to have as he is not himself a member of the black community.
Professor Patel is also eager to “explore the wider evidence base around COVID-19 treatment”, through his role as pharmacy research champion for Yorkshire and Humber with the National Institute for Health Research.
This includes looking at how pharmacy teams can be encouraged to engage more with studies and trials into “developing valuable and effective treatment and prevention for COVID-19”, particularly as “BAME people have been known to be less likely to come forward” for such research, he said.