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Lloyds joins with senior pharmacist on BAME risk assessment work

Professor Patel said he is open to similar collaborations on BAME issues with other organisations

Lloydspharmacy is working with Professor Mahendra Patel to help inform its strategy on reducing COVID-19-related risks for its BAME workforce.

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.

BAME expertise

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.

What do you make of this initiative?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

The winds of change seem to be coming. RPS, GPhC etc... will not be immune. Reap the whirlwind....... Who's kneeling at 6pm ?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Immune? Reap the whirlwind?? That's quite inflammatory language, Benie.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

As I've said in another post, surely the mitigating actions taken should be the same for any high risk workers? If measures are taken to protect high risk employees, these measures will benefit ALL high risk employees. Asthmatic, asplenic, chemotherapy, BAME - all higher risk, all need the same actions taken for protection. Linking this issue to BAME seems a bit of a headline grabbing  sop and purely in response to everything else that's happening at the moment.

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

In plain and direct language, you are saying this Black lives Matter bandwagon is being misused in a society so equal that there is no need to highlight the vulnerability of BAME workers. In my travels, Pharmacy staff with high-risk conditions did not serve in the front shop, and if they had symptoms, they automatically self-isolated and were paid in full. 

I never heard of a situation where a BAME employee was given that privilege. I am saying this because in your rationale you mentioned that being asthmatic or asplenic and being BAME should be treated the same. We knew about high-risk groups before this poorly managed response unfolded. However, statistics revealed vulnerabilities for BAME people and hence this debate. You are saying let's keep the status quo because and possibly in a casual manner elevate BAME people, if necessary to groups that we had already identified as high risk. This to me smacks of the kind of the overt racism people are fighting in the streets today. 

As this pandemic started, there was a belief amongst colleagues that dark-skinned people were more resistant to the Coronavirus. Does this explain why black and Asian people were more at risk? I don't know, but it may reveal. Of the first 10 Consultants who died in the NHS, 8 of them were black or Asian, and the question is, was this due to vulnerability or exposure? I don't know either but one thing I can say is that the unappreciated fact is that BAME personnel make a disproportionate number of people who were and are in the frontline fight against the Coronavirus. Do they need a thank you? No, I would say because they are employed and paid for their service. Do they need appreciation and respect? I would say yes, they do. 

But for anyone to say BAME personnel should be placed at the same level as medical conditions like Asthma, Cancer, and COPD is a travesty. BAME are not infestations or diseases, they are human beings, and this is why this debate is on their vulnerability as people and not as diseases like you see it, Mr Lucky-Ex-Locum. Luck is the kind of thing that has eluded BAME people for a long time. We can do with a bit of your Luck, man. Stay safe.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You stay safe too!

I'm not ,of course, saying that someone with black skin is a disease! The only thing I'm trying to say is that protecting the vulnerable is protecting the vulnerable, regardless of the reason for that vulnerability, The actions taken to protect the individual will not be different for a black person than for a white one, but I see and accept your point that BAME counter staff without other underlying conditions have a sort of 'hidden' vulnerability BUT a Covid secure workplace (I really hate these buzz-phrases but there you go) will function for all. You don't need, right here and right now, to have investigations into why BAME people are disproportionately affected. That's for a later time when we have all the facts. If you make it that the virus can't get to them, same as you would for any vulnerable worker, they are safe, pure and simple. You don't need an expensive consultation to tell you that. Just the common sense I was referring to and an acceptance of the truth of it. Once you have that acceptance, the actions become plain.

Society as a whole has an obligation to protect those that need protection - at the moment, because of the actions of an idiotic, clearly racially motivated individual in America there has been a massive spotlight on BAME, or if you prefer, Black Lives Matter. This is absolutely right and correct. I've seen racism, even within my own family, and yes, I do call it out. It's real and needs addressing. However, there is definite hope - the most racist generation is what you would call the British version of the Windrush generation, i.e. those British people who were young adults when the Windrush arrived. They then passed their views on, in a diluted form to the next generation, mine. From there, again diluted, views were passed down. My daughter (I'm an old dad) is now of the generation where racism has a hope of dying out. I'm proud to say she thinks of everyone equally, is able to see past any physical, visible characteristics to the person beneath (that can be where the problems start but that's a whole other issue!) and she isn't alone. You will never completely get rid of racism, it's too ingrained into human DNA - we are a tribal species and tribalism and hence racism will, at times and in certain people, rear it's ugly head - just look at the wars and conflicts that keep popping up. However, this current, upcoming generation, which I'll not deny has it's own faults, is not afraid to call out bigotry when it sees it.

 (Case in point - I've just listened to two older people discussing the removal of the black head pub sign in Ashbourne, saying it's ridiculous and a younger person saying it should have gone years ago - racism IS dying out, but it's slow - I grew up in the 70's where overt racism was on prime time telly so I can see it happening)

What I don't like though is the 'corporate anti-racism' which is always for a reason. Do you believe it is genuine or just an excuse to buff up the image of the company and just co-incidentally, get some more money in, because I'm afraid I don't. You won't beat racism because a couple of tea companies say so. Unfortunately, the whole world economy is built on exploitation of one sort or another (did P G Tips always source it's product from ethically grown and well paid plantations? I very much doubt it - they do now but for a company set up in Victorian, colonial times - well, what do you think?) and probably always will be. Our clothes are very often made in countries with far poorer human rights than here, our food is grown unethically and unsustainably using poorly paid labour and stripping the resources of whichever country it is grown in - we are all guilty in one way or another of reaping the benefits of exploitation in this country and in all of the so-called 'First World', so going by this, yes, I do think the Black Lives Matter movement is being subverted by corporates for their own gain. Corporates are responsible for the rape of so much of the, for want of a better phrase, 'third world' that their hypocrisy on this is breathtaking. I'm sure Maccy Ds will soon be coming out with their statement but for a company which has caused the desecration of half (my vague figure, not official) the Brazilian rainforest causing global warming and the flooding out of Bangladesh, I'm afraid that a 'Black Lives Matter' statement has a hollow ring to it when they have and are causing misery for millions.

'the unappreciated fact is that BAME personnel make a disproportionate number of people who were and are in the frontline fight against the Coronavirus. Do they need a thank you? No, I would say because they are employed and paid for their service. Do they need appreciation and respect? I would say yes, they do.' - Hell yes! This is an excellent point.

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