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Well Pharmacy to risk assess all staff for COVID-19 from next week

Well Pharmacy staff will be risk assessed for COVID-19 in light of data suggesting a disproportionately higher risk of infection for people from black Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Open access article

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.

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Source: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19

Well Pharmacy will risk assess all staff for their susceptibility to COVID-19 from next week, the multiple has said.

The decision comes after NHS England recommended pharmacy employers undertake risk assessments in light of “emerging UK and international data” suggesting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are “being disproportionately affected” by COVID-19.

A spokesperson for Well Pharmacy told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the risk assessments will start with a questionnaire, which “will then highlight where more in-depth assessments may need to be completed if necessary”.

Well Pharmacy said in a statement on 18 June 2020 that it was “reaching out to involve our BAME colleagues in the structure of the assessments and, subsequently, in any specific actions we need to take to make sure our colleagues remain safe”.

The multiple is developing the risk assessments with Mahendra Patel, a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board and honorary visiting professor at the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.

“How you reach out and ask the right questions has to be carefully considered to make sure you get open and meaningful replies,” Patel told The Pharmaceutical Journal.

“I’d urge any company who is carrying out a risk assessment for their BAME colleagues to thoroughly consider their approach to make sure that this doesn’t just turn into a tick-box exercise,” he added.

Ravi Sharma, RPS director for England, said the Society is ”very pleased to see this commitment from Well” and hopes other employers will take similar steps.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks COVID-19 poses to our workforce and, in particular, to our BAME colleagues,” he said.

“It is essential that they are fully protected on the frontline. Implementing effective risk assessments and making any necessary adaptations to the working environment is an important way of reducing risk and should be implemented as a matter of urgency.”

Once Well Pharmacy employees have completed the initial questionnaires, the multiple’s spokesperson said it would follow up on any specific issues with “fuller risk assessments so that we can address those concerns”.

“For those where we identify specific cultural concerns regarding our BAME colleagues, we will again involve Professor Patel to seek his thoughts and advice on how we might address them,” they added.

Jacqueline Lunardi, people director at Well Pharmacy, said: “With the BAME community highlighted in the NHS’s research as being at higher risk, we have sought Professor Patel’s insight to help make sure we approach this correctly so that we get the meaningful data we need through this process.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208084

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