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Intersection Update – May 2023

Intersection is the PDA's newsletter bringing together news from all four PDA Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Networks.

Wed 24th May 2023 The PDA

In January 2020, NAWP started its 115th year of enabling all women pharmacists to realise their full potential and raise their profile by being educationally, socially, and politically active. NAWP became part of the PDA forming the PDA NAWP Network and becoming our first EDI Network. In April 2020, we launched three further networks, the PDA BAME Network, the PDA Ability Network, and the PDA LGBT+ Network. We encourage all PDA members to get involved in the networks that are of interest to them.

In this issue:

  • TUC report on workers’ experience of Long Covid
  • PDA attends roundtable event on racism in pharmacy and its impact on patient care
  • PDA LGBT+ Network committee member wins trade union equality award
  • “It doesn’t make it any easier” – A queer pharmacist’s account of miscarriage
  • NAWP members open up about fertility problems and pregnancy loss
  • Inclusive leadership
  • In case you missed it
  • Get involved


TUC report on workers’ experience of Long Covid 

By Clare Hirst, PDA Organiser and Coordinator of the PDA Ability Network

In March 2023, the TUC and Long Covid Support published their report, Workers’ Experience of Long Covid. This report found shockingly high levels of poor treatment by employers, with some key statistics being:

  • One in seven respondents (14%) had lost their job because of reasons connected to Long Covid
  • Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they had experienced one or more types of unfair treatment at work, including one in six (16%) who had been subject to bullying and/or harassment at work
  • Half of the respondents (49%) said they had reason to believe they had contracted Covid-19 at work, highlighting that many people are being continually failed by their employers through a lack of health and safety measures, including ventilation
  • Of the respondents who said that they had advised their employer of their condition and its symptoms, almost half (48%) reported that they were not given all or any of the changes they needed to return to work, and half (50%) were not given all or any of the changes needed to manage their job.

The report also highlighted the confusion felt as to what legal protections people with Long Covid are entitled to and what employers’ duties are towards them, including whether people with Long Covid are protected under the Equality Act 2010’s definition of disability. Whether someone meets the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability would be based on that individual’s experiences. However, TUC findings indicate that many who responded to their survey would meet it, entitling them to protections and the right to reasonable adjustments.

Key recommendations from the report included the recommendation for the sitting government to:

  • Ensure that everyone with Long Covid is protected under the law by strengthening the Equality Act 2010 by specifying that Long Covid is a disability
  • Protect people from Covid-19 infection, specifically calling for a commitment from the government to invest in necessary resources to protect workers and to call on employers to implement protections
  • Adopt the social model of disability
  • Strengthen flexible working rights.


PDA attends roundtable event on racism in pharmacy and its impact on patient care

By Manuella Asso, PDA Organising and Engagement Assistant and Coordinator of the PDA BAME Network

The PDA, along with other stakeholders in the pharmacy sector, including Pharmacist Support, attended a roundtable event hosted by the GPhC in December 2022. They discussed how racism affects pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and patient care. They also covered how the different representative bodies could work collectively to tackle the issue. The event has helped inform the GPhC’s 5-year strategy of delivering equality, improving diversity, and fostering inclusion as well as offering support to those who actively challenge and speak up against discrimination.

Common themes that emerged from the discussion include:

  • The importance of bringing people together on key equality topics
  • Using data and intelligence from different sources to provide greater insights and inform actions
  • Concrete solutions to bring about tangible and real change
  • Accountability for everyone, across the different parts of the system
  • Continued learning, engagement, and awareness raising
  • Partnerships, collaboration, and leadership.

Those who attended included PDA Director Paul Day, PDA Policy Officer Bharat Nathwani, PDA BAME Network Immediate Past President Elsy Gomez Campos, and past Vice-President Sherifat Muhammad Kamal. Elsy shared members’ lived experiences as well as her own, which was the motivation that led to her starting her own organisation to help support those who have lived through similar situations.

Health inequality is unacceptable and can range across several factors such as socioeconomic, geography, protected characteristics, and different social groups. Sadly, many people fall into more than one of these categories, which increases their chances of experiencing health inequalities.

According to recent data from the GPhC, BAME pharmacists account for 48.1% of the entire pharmacy workforce. This is reflective of the PDA’s membership and many of our members either know or have heard of a colleague being discriminated against, have witnessed it, or have personally experienced it themselves. The PDA strongly opposes every form of racism and discrimination and has adopted an actively anti-racist approach in pharmacy.

In addition to developing an industry-focused Anti-Racist Pharmacy Toolkit, the PDA has carried out a number of surveys within community pharmacies and NHS employers to ascertain members’ experiences of racism and discrimination and ensure that members are supported in identifying and addressing any form of racism that might exist where they work.

We encourage any of our members who have identified issues in their workplace to not be afraid to speak their “truth to power” by being honest and sharing their experiences using the employee questionnaire found in the toolkit. This will help drive positive change in their workplaces.

These small yet meaningful, actionable steps will help create an anti-racist pharmacy sector that will impact wider society. PDA members will continue to have a voice in these meaningful discussions and campaign together for fairer, more inclusive work practices and cultures.

Sima Hassan, President of PDA BAME Network said, “The PDA BAME committee is committed to its members and is working towards initiatives that will help create an anti-racist pharmacy sector right the way from pharmacy education through to working as a pharmacist in the field.”



PDA LGBT+ Network committee member wins trade union equality award

One of Scotland’s leading LGBT+ campaigners and Honorary Secretary of the PDA’s LGBT+ Network has received the Equality Award at the STUC Annual Congress this month in Dundee. The award praised Soh Xi Ken’s tireless advocacy for LGBT+ workers within pharmacies in Scotland, highlighting his personal experience of homophobia in Scotland and his home country, Malaysia.

In May 2021, Xi Ken became a founding member of the PDA LGBT+ Network’s committee and was elected as their first Honorary Secretary. Xi Ken and others within the network spotted that there was a lack of LGBT+ specific guidance given to pharmacy students and that their unique and specific health needs were not being addressed as part of the pharmacy education that they received.

Xi Ken, who was presented the Equality Award by the First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf at the Congress, coordinated the #LGBTplusMPharm initiative. Liaising with the GPhC (the pharmacy profession’s regulator), the Pharmacy Schools Council, and individual universities, he raised awareness of the need for inclusive education and worked to help pharmacy schools embed LGBT+ inclusion within their teaching and learning.

Xi Ken said, “It’s a great privilege to have received the STUC Equality Award with all praise and gratitude going to my colleagues within the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.

It has been an honour to fight for LGBT+ rights within the pharmacy sector. When we all come together, trade unionists can make real changes in workplaces, industries, and in communities.

That’s precisely why I’m a proud member of the PDA. We’re seeking to root out discrimination in all its forms within the sector, leaving no stone unturned in our collective fight for fairness and equality throughout Scotland’s pharmacies.”


“It doesn’t make it any easier” – A queer pharmacist’s account of miscarriage

A PDA LGBT+ Network member shares her story here

Originally I wanted to write a diarised account of my IVF process – I never thought I would end up writing about my miscarriage.

My wife and I are both healthcare professionals and I went in knowing the statistics. Miscarriages occur in around a quarter of all known pregnancies. It’s so common, it’s ordinary.

But knowing that and working at an obstetrics hospital and having a partner who’s held the hands of countless patients going through the same ordeal did not soften the blow in any way.

If anything, I was harder on myself. I knew it could happen. I tried not to get invested in the pregnancy (it was only the first IVF cycle after all). I tried to temper my excitement about everything pregnancy and baby-related. Because I knew the reality. It was early days. I was only around seven weeks into my pregnancy.

But laying in that scanning room and being told that the foetus no longer had a heartbeat, absolutely broke me. I felt the absence of my partner so acutely at that moment (she had a clinic full of patients to oversee and there are less accommodations from organisations if you are not the employee carrying the pregnancy). The ultrasound technician was upset herself. She comforted me.

I then had a ‘breaking bad’ discussion about the options available for a silent miscarriage. I had no bleeding, no signs. Nothing. It was unexpected.



NAWP members open up about fertility problems and pregnancy loss

By PDA NAWP Network members

As NAWP, we want to help women find their voices and thrive at work. We have come together to talk about the very difficult topics of fertility problems and miscarriages. We dedicate this article to every single patient or pharmacist who has unfortunately experienced this.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

Sam Annall, clinical pharmacist for a Primary Care Network said, “We started trying for a baby in 2012 and after 18 months of no success we were referred for tests. After various tests, we were diagnosed with an ‘unexplained infertility.’ IVF was the best route for us.

We started IVF in 2016. The initial course of treatment was short, a few days of injections before egg collection. I had to have multiple appointments to explain the protocol, injection technique, and ultrasounds every couple of days to check on the follicles then finally egg collection. I took leave from my job as a community pharmacy manager using annual and a week’s paid special leave.

The initial hormone treatments put your body into a false menopause to stop any natural ovulation, I experienced hot flushes and other menopausal side effects. Then I was given hormone injections to get multiple eggs to develop and another injection to stop the release of these eggs. I had to attend every 2 weeks for ultrasounds as the eggs developed. This was getting uncomfortable as they got bigger, but gentle walking helped. Having time off work was essential, not just for the appointments but also to try and stay relaxed and stress-free.”


Inclusive leadership

By Lynne Copp, Founder and Managing Director of The Worklife Company

When coaching and developing many male and female leaders, I have often thought that it felt a bit like taking a frog out of a muddy pond, cleaning up the frog, and placing it back in the pond expecting it to stay clean. My realisation was that it was not just the frogs, but the ponds that needed to be cleaned for everyone to thrive and flourish.

For women especially, surviving – never mind thriving – in certain ponds is a continuous struggle. In these environments, the expectation of compliance with cultures, behaviours, and customs that do not align with our own, means camouflaging and muting our authentic talents.

Whilst cultures can be toxic to both men and women, the continuous response is still to fix women to fit in and set quotas, rather than fix the pond in which they swim – a bit like providing diving suits and breathing equipment to frogs and setting targets for them to swim to the top. Frogs in suits become unrecognisable, can’t swim freely, and their authentic voice is muffled within.

In 2012, I embarked on parallel studies to define:

  1. The preferred exemplar feminine leadership model
  2. A balanced organisational culture framework.

The objective of both was to define the pond environment where both men and women could flourish and where everyone was valued for their contribution.

Lynne will be speaking to NAWP members at an online event in Autumn 2023 which will introduce members to the model ‘My Brand, My Career, My Way!’ and offer a methodology for developing your own ideal pond environment. If you are not already a NAWP member, make sure you don’t miss out on more information closer to the time, by joining the network here.



Get involved

Membership of the PDA’s EDI Networks is open to all UK pharmacists, former pharmacists (e.g. retired or taking a career break), and all UK pharmacy students and trainee pharmacists. This is regardless of age, race, gender, sexual identity, disability, nationality, hours worked, or employment status. Pharmacists do not need to identify as BAME, disabled, LGBT+, or as women in order to join those networks. All networks welcome allies, people who will support equality and fairness for all.

You do not need to be a member of the PDA to join, though PDA members do benefit from a discounted membership fee. PDA members can join a network for £10 per year, retired members for £20 per year, and non-PDA members for £30 per year. In accordance with our support for future pharmacists, membership of the networks is FREE for PDA student members and trainees (PDA student and trainee membership is also FREE).




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