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BAME Pharmacists’ Network – October 2020

Welcome to the latest PDA BAME Pharmacists' Network Update. This special edition newsletter coincides with Black History Month.

Wed 28th October 2020 The PDA

In case you missed it, see the PDA’s latest news article on Black History Month and find out more about our related social media campaign here.

In this issue:

  • The time is now – inclusive professional practice and why it matters
  • To tackle racism, we must move from “ripping labels” to embracing enforceable principles 
  • My journey to becoming the first BAME President of NAWP
  • COVID-19: the impact on pre-reg pharmacists, and wearing a face mask with a turban
  • Lessons on race inequality and inclusion in the NHS workforce
  • Change and identity at work
  • Risk Assessment in General Practices for BAME clinicians
  • REMINDER: BAME Network requests nominations for upcoming elections

We encourage you to share this mailing with colleagues that would like to read it. 

The time is now – inclusive professional practice and why it matters

This Black History Month, PDA Head of Policy Alima Batchelor reflects on how far we have come and how far we still have to go, to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the pharmacy sector.The prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in America and some of the responses this appeared to provoke in certain quarters have caused me to reflect on how far we have come and yet how far there still is to go in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Keith Ridge together with over 30 pharmacy stakeholder groups issued a statement about a commitment to embedding inclusive professional practice in pharmacy. Sadly one of my first thoughts was how many people might be rolling their eyes and immediately seeing this initiative as somehow pandering to over-sensitive BAME people with a chip on their shoulders and an obsession with “victimhood”.

So – below are just a few of the reasons why this was such an important statement and why it really is not true that “everyone gets treated the same” or (even worse) “white people are the ones beginning to be discriminated against these days”.


To tackle racism, we must move from “ripping labels” to embracing enforceable principles 

By Ade Williams, Superintendent Pharmacist
I abhor labels, especially racial/ethnicity ones. They become an indolent way to dampen our most potent shared human instinct – curiosity. The boxes created for them to fit are limiting – distilling all interpretations to a simple narrative. The worst types of labels offer a collective description of a people’s experience, diminishing lived experiences and personal history. It is a cop-out from investing time to understand while providing a false sense of cognisance. Thankfully, in the current conversations about equity and racism, ‘‘labels’’ are being ripped up.
As people share their personal stories, empathy and a greater understanding of social injustice emerges. The challenge now is how to redress effectively. One of my heroes, American clergyman and civil rights leader Leon Howard Sullivan was instrumental in helping to end apartheid in South Africa. The first African-American board member of General Motors, he first tackled racial barriers of poverty and oppression in Philadelphia using wealth creation by facilitating skill transfer, job-training programs and investment. He organised collective action to pressure local companies to change discriminatory employment policies. The “Sullivan Principles,” his code of conduct for companies operating in apartheid South Africa persuaded many companies to pull out of the country as it called for equal pay and training opportunities for all workers, regardless of race. The country’s apartheid policy made this impossible.

I believe in the power of organised collective representation because when it works well, it not only gives a voice to the marginalised and underrepresented but propels positive change. Sullivan’s passion for activism was lit by his experience of discrimination visiting a drug store aged 12. He built global partnerships to fight injustice guided by shared principles. Pharmacy must now likewise mobilise effectively to harness the power of togetherness to make positive change happen quickly. Achieving change that is transformative and lasting remains the only worthwhile gain from painfully sharing our stories and ripping up labels. Here in 2020; Justice must not wait any longer.

My journey to becoming the first BAME President of NAWP

By Nayantara (Naina) Chotai, Consultant Advisor for Community Pharmacy, President of the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP), and PDA SE Regional Committee Member

I arrived in the UK from Kenya, then completed my schooling and Pharmacy degree. I have been on the pharmaceutical register for 41 years. My work experience spans across community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, health authority leading onto PCT, Change programme establishing smart patient journey moving from primary care, secondary care, social care and end of life care.

A new community pharmacy contract in 2005 marked a big change in my career pathway. I took up the role of Professional Services Manager in ‘Buying groups’, utilising my project and process management skills. In 2010, realising the demand for this niche service, I set up my own company as a consultant business/professional advisor for community pharmacy.

I am now honoured and humbled to lead the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP), an organisation that has been in existence since 1905, spearheaded by extremely talented and spirited women. My guiding principle has been to work hard to follow your dream and never stop learning.
Get involved: Join NAWP as a female pharmacist or as an ally of the network

COVID-19: the impact on pre-reg pharmacists, and wearing a face mask with a turban

By Jasraj Singh Matharu, Provisionally Registered Pharmacist, PDA Prov-Reg Rep and PDA Executive Member

The profession of pharmacy has undergone many developments during this year, many of which have been precipitated by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been discussions on the reform of the pre-registration year along with the introduction of the interim foundation pharmacist programme. As members of the 2019/20 pre-registration cohort, my colleagues and I have been venturing into the unknown, settling into our new roles as provisionally registered pharmacists. There is a sense of unfinished business as we continue to prepare for the pre-reg exam and become fully recognised within our profession.
Throughout this eventful year, the PDA has been engaging with and listening to the concerns of pre-regs and pharmacists. With the uncertainty of the registration exam still looming, the PDA introduced their Education Hub exclusively for members in August 2020. The first free eight-week programme provides a range of resources, contains a wealth of information and is a great tool for any new pharmacist – I would definitely recommend the PDA to any new prov-reg!

I have really enjoyed my current role as a relief pharmacist, working with and learning from many new pharmacy teams. Being a turban-wearing Sikh, I’m often asked about my turban and how I’ll wear a face mask. For Sikhs, the turban is an article of faith representing equality, honour, integrity and spirituality. Above all, it identifies an individual as a Sikh. For many other pharmacy professionals, headscarves and head coverings are an important part of their faith. As members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, adapting to new guidance, whilst not compromising our faith and beliefs has been a challenge. However, I always welcome conversations about my faith, culture and religion, and it often leads to some challenging and interesting conversations!


Lessons on race inequality and inclusion in the NHS workforce

By Manuella Asso, PDA Organising Assistant and BAME Network Coordinator
I was interested to read a recent study conducted by the King’s Fund which explored different ways in which three different NHS providers tackled race inequality and inclusion in their respective workplaces. The report highlighted some stark truths about the extent of racial inequality in the NHS. The latest Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data shows that in the last 12 months, 15.3% of ethnic minority staff have reported experiencing discrimination at work from other colleagues, which is more than double the proportion of white staff reporting discrimination (6.4%). An even larger proportion of ethnic minorities are being under-represented in senior managerial roles compared to their white counterparts.
What has the NHS done to address inequality and what can pharmacists learn?

The NHS has introduced the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) which focuses on tackling the issue of race inequality whilst allowing for greater visibility of not just the issues, but to hold NHS providers accountable and to monitor progress on their work on equality and inclusion. This approach by WRES is important to our sector and encourages action. Studies demonstrate that a motivated, inclusive and valued workforce helps to deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and better patient safety.

On a more practical and local level, the three NHS hospitals researched have taken several initiatives forward including the introduction and active support of staff diversity networks by white colleagues, unconscious bias training for all staff, promoting ‘safe routes’ for raising racial concerns through appointed ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardians’ and developing leadership programmes aimed at ethnic minorities which include mentoring.

A combination of these interventions have contributed to seeing a shift in attitude toward race equality and inclusion in these respective settings, albeit there is still considerable progress to be made, these hospitals are becoming better workplaces for all. It is widely understood that low staff morale affects patient care, it is therefore in the interests of all aspects of the healthcare profession to ensure that staff workplace satisfaction is high. Leadership is key to success of such intervention programmes, and leaders at all levels have a role to play in supporting and implementing the initiatives and addressing resistance and issues along the way.

In July 2020, the government announced the launch of an independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. The aim is to examine inequality in the UK, across the whole population focusing on education, health, crime and policing, and employment. The PDA hopes to be able to contribute to the debate, not just within the pharmacy profession but in the healthcare sector.

Diversity and equality is at the core of the PDA’s ethos. There is growing demand from our members to get involved in challenging pharmacy to deliver on diversity and equality for pharmacists and to improve their experience in the workplace. Engagement for many members begins by joining one or more of our equality networks. The PDA understands that we need to work together, and addressing inequality and inclusion needs to be an ongoing activity that engages with and responds to people’s lived experiences, in our case, our members.


Change and identity at work

In our latest member voice article, Nav Bhogal, a pharmacist and South East Regional PDA Rep shares his story of how discrimination affected his pharmacy journey.

My realisation of ‘not fitting in’ started at the end of my 3rd year when I had to attend selection centres and interviews. I failed to secure any job placements in the first round. This was very disheartening as I interviewed well, I was predicted to get good grades and I was fluent in English. I asked for feedback on how I could improve my opportunities and was shocked by the comment I received which I will never forget. I was specifically informed, “You look different and as such you would struggle to fit into most teams.”


Risk Assessment in General Practices for
BAME clinicians

By Siddiqur Rahman, Primary Care Pharmacist and South East Regional PDA Union Representative

The need to have effective risk assessments done to include BAME considerations in general practices, as well as in other clinical settings, such as community pharmacies and hospitals is now more important than ever before in the COVID-19 climate.

The PDA developed a toolkit to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 in community pharmacy, and this may be a helpful starting point to adapt to other pharmacy settings.


REMINDER: BAME Network requests nominations for upcoming elections

We are pleased to announce that the PDA BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Pharmacists’ Network has grown substantially in numbers over the last few months. In the coming weeks, we will be running an election for BAME Officers to lead the network. 

Three positions are available: President, Vice-President and Honorary Secretary. Please see below for further details of the roles.


The duties and responsibilities of the President shall be as follows:

  • Liaise with the Director and other members of PDA staff to plan and deliver an annual programme of activity
  • Chair virtual and in person meetings of the network
  • Keep up to date with issues of interest to BAME pharmacists
  • Represent the network at external meetings
  • Be the principle spokesperson for BAME, giving interviews and being quoted in communications as required
  • Be a member of the PDA Equality Council.


The duties and responsibilities of the Vice-President shall be as follows:

  • Support the work of the President
  • Deputise for the President where necessary
  • Keep up to date with issues of interest to BAME pharmacists.

Honorary Secretary

The duties and responsibilities of the Honorary Secretary shall be as follows:

  • Ensure meetings are effectively organised and minuted
  • Share a copy of the Agenda and Minutes with the PDA’s Organising Assistant within two weeks after a meeting has taken place
  • Liaise with appropriate members of PDA staff to ensure the effective administration of the network
  • Keep up to date with issues of interest to BAME pharmacists
  • Act as returning officer for BAME officer elections.

BAME members may apply for more than one role. If you are interested in standing for any of the above positions, please email the information below to by Friday 6 November 2020 at 5 pm.

  • First and second name
  • Year commenced practice
  • Qualifications
  • Previous/current positions held that you feel are relevant to the role (role title; employer/organisation; Year started; Year ended
  • Supporting statement explaining which position(s) you are nominating yourself for and why (up to 250 words)

We look forward to receiving your nominations!





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