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Looking at the 'disproportionate' number of fitness-to-practise cases between ethnic groups

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This letter refers to the editorial ‘Transparency required to prove fitness-to-practise process is non-discriminatory’ (The Pharmaceutical Journal, 7 March 2019).

Maybe I’m missing something, and I certainly don’t want to belittle the importance of transparency in the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) fitness-to-practise decisions. However, I fail to see how 47% of pharmacists identifying as black, Asian or minority ethnic being suspended or removed from the register, compared with 45% similarly identifying on the GPhC register as a whole, can be described as “disproportionate”.

You acknowledge that the ethnicity data are partial and meaningless in drawing any conclusions (there is no way of knowing the ethnicity of those who have declined to identify their ethnicity). However, if you are going to publish these figures, I would suggest that on the surface they appear, to me at least, to be remarkably proportionate.

I would welcome your comments if my reasoning is flawed.

Christopher Osborne, Nottingham

Thank you for your letter. As you rightly point out, the GPhC has provided only partial data and, as we say in the editorial, it is difficult to make any firm conclusions when a number of those going through the fitness-to-practise process did not disclose their ethnicity. However, if these are removed from the analysis, then around 57% of pharmacists removed or suspended are BAME, and it remains unclear whether black, Asian or minority ethnic pharmacists are more likely to receive a harsher sanction. The burden of proof should fall on the regulator to ensure that it can demonstrate its procedures are fair and that is why we are calling for more transparency.

Nigel Praities, executive editor, The Pharmaceutical Journal

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206394

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