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‘Pharmacy needs to move to being actively anti-racist’

"We have systems that lead to biased racial outcomes"

Community pharmacy must fight the systemic racism in the sector instead of staying silent, Mohammed Hussain says

In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, people across pharmacy have been speaking out against racial injustice in the sector. Mohammed Hussain, a Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) fellow, says in C+D’s latest podcast that more needs to be done.

“We need to move from our current position to actively being anti-racist,” says Mr Hussain. “It's not enough to just not be racist, we need to do much more than that. And we need to have a conscious and purposeful agenda to act against bias.

“It’s important to recognize that we’re not just talking about any one individual. I don’t think we have many racist individuals within pharmacy. What I do think we have is a structure and systems that lead to biased racial outcomes."

Listen to the podcast to hear from Mr Hussain, who is also NHS Digital senior clinical lead, on:

  • The need for addressing our discomfort in talking about race
  • The lack of black representation in leadership positions in pharmacy
  • Racial disparity in pay gap, fitness-to-practise reports and pre-registration pass rates
  • Improving COVID-19 risk assessments of BAME individuals
  • How the RPS should be "less defensive" when handling BAME issues

The views expressed in the podcast represent Mr Hussain's alone.

In response to Mr Hussain’s comments, the RPS told C+D: “We’re on a journey with our inclusion and diversity work to create positive change in our profession. We welcome all points of view to inform this work and recognise the importance of RPS taking meaningful action in this area.”

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred Android podcast app.

Has your pharmacy conducted risk assessments?

Locum Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

In some pharmacis it does not matter how qualified, efficient and professional as soon as you walk in the staffs' reaction is racist and you can feel it. 

I find when I worked in a multiple recently. I found that to be the case in some of their pharmacies 

 You have to be non white to experience this. Sometimes it is subtle. I have colleagues who I have heard have been treated awfully by this company as a general

*This article has been moderated to comply with C+D's community principles*

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Sadly, even as a white person, I know this to be true because I've heard it from the other side, when I walk in as a white locum. I think it shows a distinct lack of intelligence in the staff concerned and it is very sad that they feel able to spout racist views to me because they assume I will feel the same way.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

The trouble with being 'actively anti-racist' is that you then become pro-actively racist by default. If there are two candidates for a job and you pick the black one to balance out your staff, that is still racism, just in an opposite direction. A true lack of racism is when a persons skin colour is utterly irrelevant and it is the person and their abilities which is seen. Given that a very high proportion of pharmacists are non-white I think we are very far down this particular road.  Maybe there are not as many black people in higher positions but could that, just possibly, be because they don't want those positions? I have no desire to become the director of anything. I get enough crap as a normal pharmacist thanks. I don't want any more.

Also, the concept of BAME is very flawed. A black person is as different from an Asian person as they are from a white person, and also just as much the same. To lump all 'non-whites' into one group is both demeaning and self defeating. It highlights differences, not similarities. How about we celebrate how much ALIKE all races are, rather than how different they all are?

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

I make no apology for stating that the above is the biggest load of garbage I have had the misfortune to read in a long time. What is this ??? BLM meets Pharmacy ?? Are we expected to take a knee everytime a person comes into the shop ?? The ability to carry out a job well and efficiently is nothing to do with skin colour but everything to do with intellectual ability and willingness to learn the skills to actually carry out the job, and then do it. Some can and some can't, it is that simple.  Please stop peddling this cultural marxist trash - there is way too much of it about, and especially so in a country as welcoming and tolerant as the UK.

*This comment has been moderated to comply with C+D's community principles*

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

'What is this ??? BLM meets Pharmacy ?? Are we expected to take a knee everytime a coloured person comes into the shop ??'

No, Mr Hussain hasn't suggested anything of the sort. If you actually listen to what he has to say, you will realise he is suggesting being more proactive and looking at systemic causes. A positive step forward in my opinion.

You could make a start by not using the term 'coloured person', which many people find highly offensive.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Mark - what is the difference between calling someone a 'coloured person' as opposed to 'a person of colour' which I hear all the time. This is a genuine question, I'm not trying to be facetious or offensive in any way (both terms are pretty daft anyway because unless you are totally transparent, you are coloured. I'm a sort of manky yellowy pink, others are brown. Both are colours.)

Rita Pharm, Administration & Support

I listened to it all and he picks out disparities but I feel offers no real solutions except collecting more data and maybe different shaped covid face masks for different ethnicities (about 24 minutes in)

There are differences in prereg pass rates and board memberships etc.. he says they need "equal" representation and presumably wants "equal" prereg pass rates and gphc fitness to practice hearings too, but HOW to go about it?

People cant be picked as board members based on race because that would be.. racist? He didnt say that should happen thankfully but then HOW do you fix it? HOW do you get to equal pass rates for different ethnicities? HOW do you get an equal amount of fitness to practice hearings for all ethnicities?

He seems to want to see more "black" people on these boards but this is just based on skin colour.. not all black people are the same, there are many countries with high populations but theyre all different with different cultures. A "black" person could have roots anywhere in the world

Adeel Sarwar, Community pharmacist

Excellent points raised Mohammed.
I have to say whilst far from perfect and acknowledging there is a lot more work that needs doing, pharmacy has come a long way and has come further than other professions in levelling the playing field.

We must all continue to call out these issues as they occur.

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