PDA raise concerns with every UK government about higher risk for BAME people

The PDA is calling for the steps to be taken to mitigate the risk to BAME pharmacists, who make up approximately 46% of the pharmacists workforce. 

Wed 27th May 2020 The PDA

The PDA has written to ministers responsible for equality in all UK national governments raising concerns about the higher death rates from COVID-19 amongst BAME people.

The PDA is calling for the steps to be taken to mitigate the risk to BAME pharmacists, who make up approximately 46% of the pharmacists workforce.

The PDA recently launched a BAME pharmacists network and Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy said “This is an example of an issue with a potentially profound impact on our BAME members and their families which legitimately calls for consideration of the factors which may be contributing to the stark difference in mortality rates.  The network enhances our capacity to do that.

Concerns over the health and safety at work of all pharmacists, particularly as lockdown is relaxed, is at the top of PDA’s priorities.

The letters also call for an independent inquiry to understand why the BAME community is disproportionately impacted, whether the substantially higher levels of BAME deaths could have been prevented, and to protect health-care staff at higher-risk and on the frontlines.

The text of the open letters to Equalities Ministers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is as follows:

Dear Minister,

Open letter to the minister responsible for equalities

The PDA  (Pharmacists’ Defence Association) represents over 31,000 pharmacists and pharmacy students working across the UK in all sectors of healthcare. As far as the war on the Coronavirus is concerned, our members are on the front line in hospitals, community pharmacies, prisons and primary care. Whilst all our members face high risks, we are writing to you to address the situation regarding Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people, particularly healthcare workers. BAME pharmacists make up approximately 46% of the UK pharmacist workforce and in the last few weeks, three of our members having previously occupied front-line roles have lost their lives to this awful disease; all of them were from BAME backgrounds.

Since early April it has been evident that COVID-19 does not affect all equally. The disproportionate risk for people of BAME backgrounds was confirmed by the ONS on the 7th of May yet there has been little response from the government to investigate and lessen the potential repercussions of this through providing clear guidance for health care workers.

The ONS data found that black men and women, for instance, are 4.2 and 4.3 times more likely to die from a coronavirus related death than men and women of white ethnicity. Men in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic group were 1.8 times more likely than white men, and women, 1.6 times more likely again when considering the same socio-demographic characteristics and levels of health and disability.

You can read more about this here.

The PDA is calling for the proper steps to be taken to mitigate the risk to BAME pharmacists and other health care workers; but first we need to understand the causes of these differences. This is important for this group, their families, and patients across the UK. The current advice for employers to “risk assess” staff and “make appropriate arrangements accordingly” lacks clarity, particularly considering the unacceptable PPE shortages some staff are still facing. We need better guidance and support from the government to ensure high-risk BAME workers are better protected.

The PDA would also like to reiterate the key worker status of all pharmacists and remind the government to include these workers in any plans made to protect heath care staff. In a recent survey by Pharmacy Magazine, community pharmacists reported feeling let down by the government and treated as unessential which is unacceptable considering the public facing role played by these workers in community pharmacies, hospitals, care homes and wider communities.

Their efforts to care for the people of the United Kingdom must not be left unsupported and unrecognised by the government, and the BAME community must not be left alone to suffer disproportionately during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We need an independent inquiry to understand why the BAME community is disproportionately impacted, whether the substantially higher levels of BAME deaths could have been prevented, and to generate more understanding so as to better protect frontline health-care staff at higher-risk.

We look forward to receiving your response and being able to reassure our members that the Government is listening and acting on their concerns.

Yours sincerely

 

Mark Koziol MRPharmS

Chairman

View the letters sent below:

England

thumbnail of Bame Public Inquiry UK Government

Northern Ireland

thumbnail of Bame Public Inquiry Northern Ireland v2

Scotland

thumbnail of Bame Public Inquiry Scottish Government

Wales

thumbnail of Bame Public Inquiry Wales

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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