The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), alongside the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) and NHS England, has published a ‘Joint national plan for inclusive pharmacy practice’ in England.
The plan encourages pharmacy professionals to embed a culture of inclusive practice into their everyday working environment to “benefit the health of our diverse communities”. It follows a joint statement of principles on inclusive pharmacy practice, published by the three bodies in September 2020.
The plan sets out “immediate and minimum actions” that pharmacy teams should incorporate into practice by summer 2021. Among those actions, the plan says that all pharmacy professional leaders should proactively ensure that “the voices of colleagues of black, Asian and minority ethnic origin are heard, valued, included as equal and considered when decisions are being taken”; and develop their understanding of how ethnically diverse teams have the potential to deliver “more culturally competent and aware healthcare”.
Under the plan, RPS, APTUK and NHS England have committed to developing a list of current training and resources to “support culturally competent healthcare delivery, with a focus on enabling pharmacy professionals to support delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine and beyond”. This list will be made available by summer 2021.
Additionally, Public Health England and the chief pharmaceutical officer’s team will develop resources to help pharmacy teams “better understand and interpret local population health data on health inequalities”, and work with their communities to design “culturally competent and tailored approaches to healthcare delivery”. These resources, too, will be shared by summer 2021.
A letter accompanying the launch asks pharmacy teams to help deliver the plan’s objectives over the next four months, “with a focus on continuing to address vaccine hesitancy and reducing health inequalities more broadly”.
The letter — signed by Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England; Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS; and Liz Fidler, president of APTUK — goes on to say that pharmacy can act as an “exemplar for other healthcare professions, leading the way on inclusive practice and addressing health inequalities”.
It adds that the chief pharmaceutical officer’s team will look into black, Asian and minority ethnic representation in pharmacy leadership in NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), and report their findings at a roundtable to be held in summer 2021.
A range of national pharmacy and other healthcare bodies have signed up as partners to the action plan, including the General Pharmaceutical Council, Health Education England and the UK Black Pharmacist Association.
Ridge said: “The distressing impact of health inequalities on people’s lives, which has been amplified since the onset of COVID-19, demonstrates we have a long way to go as professionals to genuinely understand, celebrate and make the most of the benefits of our diversity for improved healthcare provision”.
Gidley said that the RPS was “proud” to be collaborating on the plan to “make pharmacy, and pharmacy practice, more inclusive.
“The RPS inclusion and diversity strategy for pharmacy demonstrates our clear commitment to creating a sense of belonging across the profession, and we have already started to deliver on this”.
Fidler said: “We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with the RPS and NHSE&I and other partners; working to ensure inclusive pharmacy practice is embedded into everyday care for patients”.