Royal Pharmaceutical Society

How can we reduce Covid 19 risks for BAME communities?

By Dr Mahendra Patel, RPS English Pharmacy Board member

Our Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues proudly make up a significant part of the pharmacy workforce. Latest figures from the General Pharmaceutical Council register show that 43% of pharmacists are of a BAME origin.  

The safety and wellbeing of pharmacists, their teams and the communities they serve are an absolute priority for RPS. We’re deeply concerned that people from BAME groups are disproportionately affected by Covid19.

The Office for National Statistics has recently highlighted that Black adults are most at risk from coronavirus. They’re over 4 times more likely to die from Covid-19 compared to those of white ethnicity, followed closely by Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Mixed ethnic groups.

The precise reasons for these higher levels of risk are unclear. There’s now an official inquiry, led by NHS England and Public Health England, to investigate the reasons behind these worrying inequalities. Early findings point largely towards a variety of reasons, including age, sex, co-existing illness, obesity and socio-economic factors.

We have sadly lost dedicated and valuable pharmacy colleagues battling at the frontline of this pandemic; from both hospital and community care settings. To our knowledge five pharmacy staff members have died from COVID - each one a hero. Four of these are from BAME backgrounds.

We fully recognise the impact on our profession and urge the NHS and government to include pharmacy in national plans to keep BAME healthcare workers safe.

Working with the RPS, I want to start a conversation with you about BAME communities:

  • How can we can help reduce the higher risks BAME colleagues face of contracting Covid19?  
  • How can pharmacy raise awareness and improve engagement with the different BAME populations in the battle against coronavirus?
  • How can we contribute to national discussions addressing the wider health inequalities that COVID 19 has further exposed?

This Thursday 14th May at 1pm RPS is holding a Facebook Live on the issue of BAME communities and Covid19. Join me with Elsy Gomez, Chair of the UK Black Pharmacists Association, RPS President Sandra Gidley and Amandeep Doll, RPS Inclusion and Diversity Co-ordinator, to discuss these issues.

Let’s look after each other, and let’s work more closely — together — for our workforce.

Keep safe, keep well, and keep doing the fantastic work you are all doing – you are HEROES, and HEROES you will be FOREVER!

Join the Facebook live event:


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Your dedication and commitment during the pandemic has been exceptional.

As we brace for a surge of coronavirus infections, we know that pharmacy will be at the forefront of delivering healthcare.

Whether it’s flu vaccinations or dealing with local lockdowns we need decisions and assurances from the Government to make sure our profession can cope. We must make sure pharmacists get enough supplies of PPE, rapid access to testing in all care settings, and the recognition you deserve.

You told us that our leadership and resources during in the early months of the pandemic were of critical importance. We are now updating our highly valued COVID-19 resources and training webinars to make sure they reflect current - and changing - guidance.

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