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Ridge pledges training and resources so pharmacy can be more inclusive

Ridge: We’d like pharmacy professionals to implement this plan in whatever way works for you
Ridge: We’d like pharmacy professionals to implement this plan in whatever way works for you

England’s chief pharmacist has pledged training and resources for pharmacy professionals, as part of a “joint national plan for inclusive pharmacy practice” with the RPS and APTUK.

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.

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.

How do you and your pharmacy currently address health inequalities in your community?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Got the letter this week and was excited to see it headlined as 'Pharmacy Inclusion'. Silly me thought it referred to pharmacy inclusion in the NHS family - then I saw Keith Ridge had signed it and threw it in the bin. Not because I oppose anti-racist inclusion (far from it) but because no good will ever come to pharmacy from anything Ridge is involved in

V K P, Community pharmacist

time waster. pharmacy will address everything without funding. brilliant. we will be closed anyways so do not even try and show that we are being included in anything. the only thing we are included in is loss.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

He has that snide grin because he knows he won't have to do much to run the program...there won't be many Pharmacies open to run it in by the time he is finished

Dave Downham, Manager

Looking forward to this appearing as a box to tick in the next PQS.

Dee dee, Community pharmacist

Has Covid disproportianatly affected BAME communities because of cultural reasons or inequality in healthcare? Genuine question. For example, resistance to the vaccine is more likely to be found amongst BAME communities, for a whole host of cultural reasons. Is this a case of racial inequality in healthcare? Hardly. 

Health inequality is more a class and income issue rather than a race issue. However, I have no doubt that Keith knows that he must maintain a certain narrative or Twitter will be calling for his resignation. 

There is not a profession in the country more diverse than pharmacy, yet the undertone is that its full of racism, resulting in poor outcomes for BAME communities.  It's utter nonsense. Again, people paying lip service to the 'everything's racist' narrative for fear that they to will be accussed.

The profession does a sterling job at servicing the needs of all patients of all ethnicities, and Keith knows it. Downclick all you like. 





Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

You seem super intelligent and well read. Can you explain why black women are 5x more likely to die in labour ? Perhaps it is utter nonsense. My suspiscion is you've never had a frank conversation with a member of the BAME community in your life hence your insensitive comments. With a little push I can imagine where your comments would go next....

Dee dee, Community pharmacist

Didn’t take you long to start playing the race card, did it? And how do you know that I don’t belong to an ethnic minority myself? You don’t do you? For the record I do!

My comment was specifically about pharmacy. But rather than immediately reach for the lazy race card, perhaps examine other physical or social issues prevalent in different races/cultures and how this affects health outcomes, rather than accuse midwives of being effectively guilty of racist negligence.

I’m sure the maternal death rate amongst poor white mothers is higher than that amongst middle class BAME mothers, etc etc.

P M, Community pharmacist

race card .. oh no you didnt

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

You need to compare on a like for like basis . Secondly you express an opinion, and almost all evidence points to the contrary! The caucasions are priviledged through network and being a majority, and the BAME are disadvantaged - and more likely to also have mental health problems as a result of it.

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