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Pharmacy leaders concerned over lack of widespread COVID-19 risk assessment for BAME staff

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Pharmacy leaders in the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities have expressed concern that assessments of BAME staff’s susceptibility to COVID-19 are not widespread enough in community pharmacy.

NHS England wrote to community pharmacies on 29 April 2020 advising employers to “risk assess staff at potentially greater risk” of COVID-19 after “emerging UK and international data” suggested people from BAME backgrounds are “being disproportionately affected”.

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine later published a risk reduction framework — backed by NHS England — to assist with the risk assessments on 14 May 2020. This was updated on 28 May 2020 to include guidance from the Health and Safety Executive to “help organisations identify who is at risk of harm”.

But speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal, Elsy Gomez Campos, president of the UK Black Pharmacists’ Association (UKBPA), said she had been told by a small number of community pharmacists that “nothing has been done” in terms of risk assessing BAME staff.

“I know of a few people who have been assessed and that is mainly in hospital,” she said. “In terms of community pharmacists — who I’ve had contact with so far — they haven’t even been asked to have the risk assessment done.”

However, she stressed that not many from the community pharmacy sector have come forward, but “the people who have come forward have said no, it has not been done”.

“People are quite scared to ask as well because it can have repercussions on their employment or their relationships [at work],” she added.

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Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 29 May 2020

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