Lack of diversity among senior NHS pharmacists, data show

Exclusive: Data has revealed that of 41 senior pharmacy staff employed by NHS England and Improvement at Band 8a and above, 30 are of white ethnicity.

There is a lack of ethnic diversity among senior pharmacists working for NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I), data provided to The Pharmaceutical Journal show.

The figures, provided through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, reveal that of 41 senior pharmacy staff employed by the body at Band 8a and above, 73% (30) are of white ethnicity.

Six staff members were recorded as being from an ethnic minority and five were recorded as being of unknown ethnicity.

The General Pharmaceutical Council register of pharmacists shows that, as of 22 August 2021, pharmacists of white ethnicity make up 41% of the register.

The NHSE&I data was provided following a FoI request made by Elsy Gomez Campos, a pharmacist and founder and president of the UK Black Pharmacist Association (UKBPA).

Gomez Campos’ request, submitted on 10 December 2020, asked for information related to pharmacy teams employed by NHSE&I. Details were requested for ethnicity, gender, age, job title and Agenda for Change band. The data were only requested for those in senior positions, at Band 8a and above.

Results were provided by email on 21 April 2021.

Gomez Campos told The Pharmaceutical Journal that she made the FoI request because she felt that she had not seen a “real commitment to tackle racial discrimination within the profession”, and that the data did not come as a surprise to her.

“There is a real problem with the recruitment process in our profession,” she said, adding that “poor recruitment practices will have, in the long run, severe consequences for our profession”, and can result in “low staff morale and motivation, leading to a lack of innovation and poor standards, among other things”.

“Suppose their recruitment practice has resulted in a non-diverse leadership; in that case, we need to know what will be done to overhaul their recruitment process to ensure it can be scrutinised and results in future appointments of leaders that represent the diversity of our workforce.”

When contacted by The Pharmaceutical Journal, NHS England did not comment specifically on the data revealed by the FoI. However, a spokesperson for NHS England said it published a document in January 2019 setting out how it intended to increase black and minority ethnic representation in the NHS at a senior level.

The spokesperson also said Simon Stevens, then chief executive of NHS England, made a commitment in March 2020 to ensure that the health service’s ‘head office’ was representative of the wider workforce at all levels of seniority.

Read more: Making the MPharm fairer: what can be done about the ethnicity awarding gap?

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2021, Vol 307, No 7953;307(7953)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.105146