The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RBS) and UK Black Pharmacists Association (UKBPA) have called on the government to provide more support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) pharmacy team members. 

Following Public Health England’s (PHE) report on 'Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19', which highlighted BAME people as being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the two bodies called for further recommendation and action on how the government plans to support this at-risk group.

The bodies jointly wrote letters to English, Welsh and Scottish governments earlier this week (June 10), urging each government to take action on tackling health inequalities facing this group. The letters also called on ministers to ‘engage with the pharmacy profession to bring about real change to support and protect [the] workforce.’ 

The pharmacy sector has a high representation of BAME workers, currently comprising 47 per cent of the workforce, according to GPhC figures. 

As it stands, seven pharmacy team members have died after contracting Covid-19, six of these came from BAME backgrounds. 

In the letters for England and Scotland, addressed to Kemi Badenoch - the minister for equality - and Christina McKelvie - the minster of older people and equalities - the bodies also referred ‘wider questions’ on how to ‘encourage inclusion and diversity across the health service, promoting equality of opportunity, and supporting people from more diverse backgrounds into NHS leadership roles.’ 

On Monday (June 1) RPS Director for England, Ravi Sharma, called for a mandatory risk assessment for BAME all staff. He said: ‘The NHS and employers must make adjustments and re-shape their services if needed to enable people with a BAME background to continue to deliver high-quality patient care.’

In May, the PDA wrote to ministers to raise concerns about the higher death rates from COVID-19 amongst BAME people and called for steps to be taken to mitigate risk to the group.

Head of Policy at the PDA Alima Batchelor, said ‘This is an example of an issue with a potentially profound impact on our BAME members and their families which legitimately calls for consideration of the factors which may be contributing to the stark difference in mortality rates. The network enhances our capacity to do that.’

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