Almost a quarter (24%) of pharmacy team members who responded to a recent survey are still waiting for a workplace risk assessment for Covid-19.
This is despite over two thirds of Black and Asian respondents -71% and 67% respectively – stating that they believe they are at risk of contracting the virus at their workplace.
The survey, which was conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the UK Black Pharmacists Association (UKBPA), gathered responses from 635 pharmacy team members across the UK on their experience of Covid-19 assessments.
It also found that 68% of Black and 58% of Asian pharmacists believe that changes could be made to their workplace to reduce their risk of Covid-19.
In response to these findings, RPS and the UKBPA called once again for employers to take urgent action to pharmacists are risk assessed.
Sandra Gidley, President of RPS said that ‘these findings highlight that there is still work to be done to protect colleagues, especially those from BAME backgrounds’.
She added: ‘As we approach winter and potential further pressures from Covid-19, it’s critical that pharmacists are able to practise without the additional worry and anxiety that precautions to protect them from the virus are inadequate.’
The survey also revealed concerns about the consequences of risk assessments. It found 22% of Black and 18% of Asian pharmacists were worried about the outcome or impact of their assessment, compared with only 6% of white respondents.
Concerns included the outcome of an assessment recommending few changes, despite some individuals being moderate to high risk or living with people who are, and fears about restrictions to working practice or workplace discrimination.
Last month, Elsy Gomez Campos, president of UKBPA told the Pharmacist that many BAME pharmacy team members have been penalised and bullied for asking for protection.
In response to these latest findings, Ms Gomez Campos said that hearing pharmacy staff are anxious about risk assessments and the repercussions is ‘heart-breaking’.
‘This reflects badly on the culture of the workplace. It’s my hope that employers will be able to find and implement innovative and safer ways of delivering patient services without causing further stress to those doing their utmost in difficult and unpredictable times,’ she added.
Ms Gidley added: ‘There must be no repercussions of the risk assessment on the employment of pharmacy team members. Full risk assessments must be put in place to properly assess all pharmacy staff, so they feel safe in the workplace whilst providing care for patients.’
An earlier survey by the two bodies found that more than two-thirds of BAME respondents had not been approached by their employer to conduct an assessment.
The NHS sent a letter to NHS employers raising the need to the risk-assess staff at higher risk of Covid-19 in June.