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BAME pharmacists more likely to face FTP panels

Information from the GPhC has revealed that Pharmacists who are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) are not only disproportionately represented among those pharmacists who are subject to Fitness to Practise (FtP) procedures but also less likely to share the same ethnicity as the decision makers sitting in judgement on their case.

Mon 3rd December 2018 The PDA

Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at the PDA said: “The only things that should influence whether someone faces a FTP hearing should be their conduct, competence or behaviour. No personal characteristic, such as race, should ever be a factor and so it always raises questions  if we see groups with any specific characteristic, under or over represented

The GPhC information showed the proportion of each group and their declared ethnicity (including one group where no ethnicity data was recorded).  The information gives a snapshot of the situation each two years since 2013.

2013 Percentage of Pharmacists’ register Percentage of pharmacists subject to concerns raised with GPhC Percentage of FtP Committee panel members
White 50% 32% 81%
Asian 26% 41% 10%
Black 5% 7% 1%
Other 3% 7% 4%
No Data 15% 14% 4%


2015 Percentage of Pharmacists’ register Percentage of pharmacists subject to concerns raised with GPhC Percentage of FtP Committee panel members
White 48% 25% 79%
Asian 28% 45% 16%
Black 6% 8% 5%
Other 3% 9% 0%
No Data 15% 13% 0%


2017 Percentage of Pharmacists’ register Percentage of pharmacists subject to concerns raised with GPhC Percentage of FtP Committee panel members
White 46% 25% 75%
Asian 30% 45% 16%
Black 6% 9% 5%
Other 3% 8% 2%
No Data 15% 14% 1%

Although there have been some improvements over time, there is still a difference in the proportion of individuals of different ethnicities present in each group. The PDA Union has a well-earned reputation for representing individuals with work and professional concerns but we also work hard to tackle any unfairness that may be affecting groups of pharmacists. 

An individual’s race is one of nine characteristics which are protected under law, meaning that action can be taken if people are discriminated against because of those personal characteristics.  The full list is: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. 

There are many ways individuals with a particular characteristic can be disadvantaged (or advantaged): sometimes discrimination is systemic, sometimes it is because of unconscious bias, sometimes it may be about previous favouritism meaning people with a certain characteristic have been denied the experience which would qualify them for a current role and sometimes it just because the decision makers are bigots.  In some senses it doesn’t matter why, if it’s not right it needs fixing ASAP to ensure that today and tomorrow there is no more discrimination, though of course anyone who has deliberately discriminated should face the consequences too.

At the heart of the standards for pharmacy professionals is the principle that every person must be treated as an individual. Organisations, such as the GPhC, should be carefully monitoring trends and when evidence, such as this is seen, they should investigate, understand and take appropriate action to overcome the under/over representation of people with any particular characteristic and tackle any continuing factors that created the situation.

Pharmacist Elsy Gomez Campos, who made the freedom of information request to the GPhC to obtain this information and shared it with the PDA said: “I know of black colleagues who have been turned down for jobs because of ‘lack of experience’ while the non-black successful candidates have had no experience but ‘bags of potential’. As I myself have experienced, successfully applying for non-mandatory training is always an uphill battle; the common excuse is usually “the time is not right” or “we’re short of staff”, only for black colleagues to pick up extra work to allow non-black colleagues to attend their courses.

Paul Day, Director of the PDA concluded: “The PDA knows from our casework that treatment by employers, colleagues or even patients can be discriminatory and employers, just like the regulator, have a legal obligation to ensure that their employees are not subject to less favourable treatment because of any protected characteristic”

The PDA encourages any member who feels they may have been treated unfavourably because of any protected characteristic to contact us for guidance and support.


The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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