Survey suggests that more than two-thirds of black, Asian and ethnic pharmacists have not been assessed for coronavirus risk in the workplace.
Of the 380 hospital and community pharmacists interviewed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the UK Black Pharmacists Association, 236 were from BAME.
Of these, 166 (70%) said they had not been approached by their employer for a risk assessment.
The RPS described the results as “shocking”.
And he called on employers to take urgent measures to ensure that pharmacists from ethnic minorities are assessed on a risk basis.
NHS England said it had written to hospital trusts, clinical service groups and community pharmacists asking all employers to perform risk assessments for staff at risk in the next two weeks.
The RPS-UKBPA survey also found that 78% of black pharmacists and pharmacy students felt at risk for coronavirus and wanted changes to the way they work.
- Unpublished BAME Coronavirus Security Plan
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Sandra Gidley, President of the RPS, said it was essential that pharmacists be properly assessed.
“People at high risk can be supported to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19, while providing a vital service to the NHS and the public.”
“Lessons need to be learned from this pandemic, especially with the risk of a second wave, and we must now act to protect our workforce. ”
According to the General Pharmaceutical Council, which regulates pharmacists, some 43% of pharmacists in the UK are from BAME.
“Take up the challenge”
The RPS and UKBPA have previously requested that individual risk assessments be mandatory for BAME staff. They also wrote to the government asking for better support from BAME pharmacists.
UKBPA President Elsy Gomez Campos said pharmacists should feel safe at work.
“It’s time to take care of each other and take care of everyone. Our profession must meet the challenge and respond to a call to assess the risks of pharmacy staff. In a month, the results of the survey must be very different from what we see today. ”
At the end of April, the NHS England recommended that ethnic minority health workers be assessed for the risk of contracting the virus. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have published similar guidelines.
A number of studies of deaths from Covid-19, including by Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics, have now concluded that people from ethnic minorities die disproportionately from the virus.
This can be explained in particular by existing health inequalities, professions open to the public and structural racism.
There have been at least 3,876 deaths of BAME people in hospitals in England until June 9. This means that BAME people have accounted for 15.5% of all coronavirus deaths so far.
Research for the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that black African deaths from the virus are 3.7 times higher than one would expect due to geography and age, while the risk for Pakistanis is 2.9 times higher and for blacks in the Caribbean it is 1.8 times higher.
NHS England’s letter to hospitals, GCCs and community pharmacists of June 24 states: “All employers must make significant progress in rolling out risk assessments in the next two weeks and completing them – at least for all staff risk groups – within four weeks. ”
It also requests organizations to publish information on the number of staff members who have undergone a risk assessment, including the number of assessments carried out for BAME staff, and urges employers to clarify what additional mitigation measures are in place in contexts where infection rates are highest.