The joint initiative, which launched today (March 10), aims to “to develop and embed inclusive pharmacy professional practice into everyday care for patients and members of the public, in order to support the prevention of ill-health and address health inequalities within our diverse communities”, Dr Keith Ridge said in a blog post.
COVID-19 has not only had a disproportionate effect on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, but is a “stark reminder” of the inequalities in healthcare provision across the country, Dr Ridge said.
While 44% of pharmacists and 13% of pharmacy technicians are from BAME backgrounds, “we have a long way to go as professionals to genuinely understand, celebrate and make the most of the benefits of our diversity for improved and better healthcare provision”, he added.
“Menu” of training and resources
In the first phase of the plan, pharmacy professionals “at all levels and in all care settings” are asked to educate themselves about equality, diversity and inclusion, while leaders should “empower pharmacy team members to participate in inclusive networks and groups”.
By “summer 2021” Health Education England (HEE), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) will “develop and share a ‘menu’ of current training and resources on culturally competent healthcare delivery with a focus on enabling pharmacy professionals to support delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine and beyond”, according to the plan.
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer team will – also by “summer 2021” – produce a resource pack to help pharmacy teams to learn how to use local population health data to help them engage with diverse communities to design culturally competent approaches to health inequalities, it added.
The joint plan – which has been drafted with “partners across the pharmacy sector”, following a roundtable event last year – will continue to be developed to ensure inclusivity “becomes part of everyday practice”, Dr Ridge added.
'Today's the start, we need to take it seriously and for organisations to act on it. Let’s join in and make this everyone’s plan.' It's been a pleasure & inspiration to work with @drmahendrapatel on the Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice: https://t.co/3Lqx4tvc8q pic.twitter.com/34y1jcda5D— Keith Ridge (@keithridge1) March 10, 2021
Pharmacy trailblazers sought
Dr Ridge acknowledged “that some organisations and teams will be ahead in terms of having arrangements in place to meet the plan’s first ambitions”.
“Where this is the case, the ask is to push ahead further and encourage others by sharing your progress,” he added.
As part of this, NHSE&I will be seeking “pharmacy trailblazers” already demonstrating “culturally competent and tailored approaches to healthcare service delivery by pharmacy teams”, the joint plan states.
“This may include working with faith communities, local community leaders and groups, voluntary sector organisations and local health champions,” it added.
NHSE&I, RPS and APTUK actions
Announcing the initiative today, Dr Ridge said his team will be collecting data about BAME representation in pharmacy leadership at NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHS&I), which will be shared at the next roundtable event.
RPS president Sandra Gidley said the society “conducted a review of our recruitment processes and are collecting inclusion and diversity data for all elected and appointed positions across boards and committees”.
The RPS is also, for the first time, running a survey to collect equality, diversity and inclusion data, which will be benchmarked against the wider profession, Ms Gidley explained.
APTUK president Liz Fidler said the organisation will be publishing plans to meet the key themes identified in the joint plan “imminently”.
It will, from next month, start collecting data on representation of membership and following a restructure of its executive committee, planned in May 2021, APTUK will be publishing organisational and membership data across the protected characteristics, APTUK explained.
Racism will not be tolerated
As well as promoting diversity, equality and inclusion, Dr Ridge stressed that’s “as part of our professional responsibilities, pharmacy professionals at all levels and in all care settings should proactively ensure there is no tolerance of racism and racial discrimination in the workplace”.
Last year, a C+D survey revealed that close to two-thirds of pharmacy staff (64%) faced racism from patients over a six-month period. This increased to almost three-quarters (73%) for BAME respondents.