The PDA host their first LGBT+ network event

This virtual meeting was an opportunity for LGBT+ network members to discuss relevant issues in pharmacy, for both pharmacists and patients, as well as to talk about the future direction of the network.

Wed 29th July 2020 The PDA

On Thursday 16th July, PDA LGBT+ network members met on Teams for their first event since the network was launched in April 2020 on the 10th anniversary of the Equality Act. This virtual meeting was an opportunity for LGBT+ network members to discuss relevant issues in pharmacy, for both pharmacists and patients, as well as to talk about the future direction of the network.

Members highlighted the fact that LGBT+ issues are rarely considered within pharmacy, with the attitude across the sector appearing to be to brush them under the carpet. “If we don’t talk about it, it’s not a problem,” said one of the network members. This approach is reflected in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers 2020 report. Every year, Stonewall produces a list of top organisations which have done great work to help achieve acceptance without exception for all LGBT+ people. Whilst there are some employers from the health care sector, such as the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust in 16th place and The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 40th place, GlaxoSmithKline in 6th place is the only organisation relating to pharmacy. Given the fact that the pharmacy sector deals directly with patients and their health, this is very disappointing.

Stephen-Andrew Whyte, one of the PDA’s LGBT+ network members, is a pharmacist and Course Director of MSc Advanced Clinical Practice. He commented, “We know that in England alone approximately 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy daily, so statistically pharmacists and their teams are coming into contact with people with a wide variety of sexual identities. It is well documented that LGBTQ+ people have high levels of mental health problems and that 14% avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination from staff. There is very little pharmacy-specific policy or publication in relation to people who identify as LGBTQ+ and the health care needs of this population, and only small pockets of learning opportunities that are starting to appear regionally. It is imperative that this health inequality is addressed by the profession.”

Another LGBT+ network member added, “I hope there can be campaigns in the future or an increased expectation to teach students, whether through the GPhC education standards or Schools of Pharmacy themselves.” In addition to raising LGBT+ visibility, other issues discussed included medications such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and the need for training for pharmacists. Another area for professional development is around the use of pronouns and how to address people, whether they are colleagues or patients. The tension between faith and sexuality was also raised.

One network member said, “I think the network could be really useful in raising awareness and making connections with other LGBT+ pharmacists.” Jayne Love, PDA Organiser and Lead on Equalities, remarked: “There is a lot of work to be done within pharmacy in terms of raising awareness of LGBT+ issues for pharmacists and their patients, but the formation of the PDA’s LGBT+ network is the first positive step towards this goal. We can work together to advance equality across the pharmacy profession and in wider society.”

Learn more: find out more about the LGBT+ network.

Get involved: pharmacists do not need to identify as LGBT+ in order to join the network: we welcome allies – people who will support equality and fairness for LGBT+ pharmacists. Join the network here.

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