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Action plan needed after damning pharmacy workforce equality report


Action plan needed after damning pharmacy workforce equality report

By Neil Trainis

The English Pharmacy Board chair Tase Oputu has urged all Trusts to urgently put in place action plans to improve the experiences of black, Asian and minority ethnic pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at work after the publication of a report yesterday that exposed racism, discrimination and inequality in the pharmacy workforce.

According to the report by NHE England, pharmacy team members from BAME backgrounds experience more discrimination, harassment, bullying, abuse and poorer career progression than their white counterparts.

BAME pharmacy team members were also least likely to feel their Trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion, with female staff members reporting the most personal discrimination at work.

Pharmacists from a BAME background were underrepresented in positions with higher pay bandings, with female pharmacists particularly affected. The report also showed pharmacy technicians from BAME backgrounds were over-represented in lower paid positions.

Of the 51,440 pharmacists and 20,768 pharmacy technicians in England in March 2022, 11,396 pharmacists and 8,443 pharmacy technicians were employed by NHS Trusts. Of those, 4,934 pharmacists and 1,625 pharmacy technicians were from a BAME background.

Oputu welcomed the report’s publication but insisted it was “a profoundly important call to action for the NHS.”

“Issues around race and racism are deep-rooted in the workforce and have historically been pushed aside and ignored, creating disadvantage, discrimination and harm in the workplace,” she said.

“The report provides evidence of the inequalities present across the secondary care system and I hope it will create a sea change for colleagues working in NHS as the trauma of racial abuse is finally recognised.”

She said it was “shocking and unacceptable” that the experience of BAME staff “is worse than their white counterparts” and insisted “in-depth work must begin to tackle the issues and improve the situation.”

“All trusts should prioritise examining their own workforce data against this report and implement an immediate action plan so we start to see real change,” she said.

Oputu said the Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey for 2023, which Health Education England has started to compile, “will be an opportunity to assess and report on the inequalities” pharmacy staff members from BAME backgrounds face.

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