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Equality and discrimination

Those ‘timid about inclusion’ will not succeed, delegates hear at RPS’s first BAME event

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society hosted its first ‘Celebrating BAME contribution to pharmacy’ event on 17 October 2019 at the Society headquarters.

RPS BAME event

Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal

Wendy Irwin, head of equality and diversity at the Royal College of Nursing, told delegates to be bold about equality and courageous about inclusion

Leaders must be bold about making structural changes to their healthcare organisations if they are to guarantee equality and inclusion, a diversity lead told delegates at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) first ever event to celebrate Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in pharmacy.

Wendy Irwin, head of equality and diversity at the Royal College of Nursing, spoke at the ‘Celebrating BAME contribution to pharmacy’ event on 17 October 2019 and presented her work at the nursing union and professional body’s cultural ambassador programme. 

“If you are timid about inclusion and afraid of equality, the future will not favour you,” she said.

Delegates at the event, held at the RPS’s London headquarters, also heard the personal and career experiences of prominent BAME leaders in pharmacy, including Raliat Onatade, group chief pharmacist at Barts Health NHS Trust, Diane Ashiru, lead pharmacist for antimicrobial resistance and stewardship at Public Health England, and Mahendra Patel, treasurer of the RPS.

Their thoughts were complemented by words from figures outside of pharmacy, such as Victoria Cabral, working group manager at BAME mental health charity Black Thrive, and Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.

The meeting, chaired by hospital pharmacist Tase Oputu, london lead for UK Black Pharmacists Association, concluded with a panel discussion and an update on the Society’s inclusion strategy from Gareth Kitson, professional development and engagement lead at the RPS.

The RPS launched its pharmacy inclusion and diversity programme in August 2019. Find out more about what the society is doing for members here.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207219

Readers' comments (2)

  • Inclusion is not just about sticking in more BAME Pharmacists or counting numbers. You need to look at the quality of jobs being offered to them.
    How many ethnic minority pharmacists are in full time contracted secure employment? How many ethnic minorities are there in different sectors of pharmacy? These are the things you need to look at.

    From what i can see, ethnic minorities will not really move beyond high street retail pharmacy. This is the glass ceiling where most ethnic careers begin and end.

    I am a Pharmacist with a Law degree and whilst applying for Law training contracts with Law firms i noticed that both the Pharmacy and Law professions have a hierarchy that favours middle class professionals mostly privately educated.
    Ethnic minorities statistically don't fair very well there and most self fund further training (LPC) and have poor employment prospects with bigger city firms. The quality of jobs and training opportunities offered to them generally are poorer with poorer prospects compared to their white colleagues.

    The GPhC a few years ago stated that they may in the future require students to pay for their own pre reg placements. If this were to happen it may well move in the direction of the Law society, where ethnic minorities will in most cases end up having to self fund their own training, only to end up in high street retail pharmacy.

    You will need to make sure that ethnic minorities have equal access to good quality training and have the same career prospects as everybody else. Again it is not just about counting numbers; but more about the quality of jobs and career prospects available to them.

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  • I also forgot to mention that ethnic minorities must put their full support behind no deal Brexit. The EU offers perks to the middle class and wealthy only.

    In our case, the pharmacy profession benefits from lower paid eastern european pharmacists. Now that large multiples have recruitment offices there, they can recruit them with ease.

    With more saturation in the work force, it is the ethnic minority workers that loose out thanks to more "increased competition". If ethnic minorities have poorer job and pay prospects, what do you think "increased competition" will do? It will only drive down our pay and prospects further.

    The white middle class are completely unaffected by this as they tend to have jobs in better positions that are inaccessible to cheaper wage workers and most ethnic minorities. This is why you will find hordes of them amongst the remain camp "remoaning" about the result of the referendum.

    It is not an ethnic minority problem, if the middle class need to wait longer in the arrivals section when they fly off for their next skiing holiday.

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