Statement of support for BAME colleagues

RPS is fully committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. We believe all forms of racism and discrimination are unacceptable and should not be tolerated.  

During the development of the Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) strategy with members and the wider profession, we heard experiences from individuals that highlighted discrimination, injustice and prejudice that has impacted them, their families, friends and colleagues. We heard the urgent need to act on this, showcase strong leadership, recognise intersectionality and a desire not to leave anyone behind.  

We recognise there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Throughout our engagement work with the profession, we heard unequivocal support for the development of an I&D strategy to address these issues and change the culture within the profession to be more inclusive, so everyone feels they belong. 

The tragic death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests have shown inequality, racism and discrimination is still experienced by black people across the world on a daily basis. For the black community, it is a painful reminder of the parallels of systemic racism here in the UK. For many, this is still very much part of everyday life. Racism and discrimination breeds health inequalities, impacting our communities, patients and colleagues. As a profession we need to look inwards and recognise that we all have role in addressing these inequalities.  

Now is the time to act. Pharmacy is a diverse profession with 43% of our pharmacy workforce being from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. Our diversity is our strength and we at RPS stand with our BAME pharmacists and are committed to addressing the systemic disparities that affect them. We want to assure you addressing racism is a priority for the RPS. 

The disproportionate affect COVID 19 has had on our BAME communities, friends and colleagues has brought into focus health inequalities and systemic discrimination experienced daily.  We have seen some action in relation to risk assessments to support high risk communities, but more needs to be done to support our workforce and the communities they serve. There is still an urgent need for a robust action plan and clear timelines of implementation following the PHE review.  

In response to this, RPS has strongly advocated for our BAME pharmacy colleagues to have risk assessments completed and we have raised this with the Equalities Minister as a matter of urgency. We have worked with the UKBPA on a survey to get a picture of the situation and as a result NHS England is now mandating all employers to carry out risk assessments for at-risk staff within the next four weeks. RPS in Wales and Scotland are asking for the same to take place in their countries. 

On the 22nd June 2020, the RPS published its Inclusion and Diversity strategy, led by an independent chair Asif Sadiq MBE a Diversity and Inclusion expert. Our I&D strategy was developed with our members and profession through surveys and workshops. Our strategy is an evolving one that will continue to be informed by our members and the profession and be sensitive to societal changes. We recognise our engagement was conducted pre-COVID and a post COVID world has brought health inequalities and structural discrimination into sharp focus. We are committed to challenging the status quo once and for all and to help create change which is visible and long lasting. 

We want to use our platform to support pharmacists to speak out against racism and make cultural changes.  

This means: 

  • Creating a culture of belonging 
  • Championing inclusive and authentic leadership 
  • Challenging barriers to inclusion and diversity 

Positive and unanimous support from all three national boards provides continued momentum for us and our teams to make changes on behalf of our profession.  

Building on the work we have undertaken and supporting our objectives outlined in our Royal Charter we will work with our members, the profession and organisations to ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging. 

It is important that debate and challenge is given open space, it is a key part of engagement and getting meaningful feedback. We are here to talk to you, to listen, learn, become allies, and we want to understand what change the profession needs going forward. Please do reach out to us: [email protected]  

Robbie Turner, Amandeep Doll, Ravi Sharma.