Making changes: our work on equality, diversity and inclusion

Welcome to this special edition of Regulate, which focuses on equality diversity and inclusion (EDI).

January 2023

In March 2023, we will reach the end of the first full year of our new EDI strategy, which signalled a major change to the way we approach equality diversity and inclusion at the GPhC. The strategy sets out a clear agenda to use all of our regulatory levers and influence to tackle discrimination and support the reduction of health inequalities, and to be more proactive on speaking out on these issues. This approach is supported by everyone at the GPhC, from our governing Council through to all of our committees and staff.

Some EDI highlights

To share some of the highlights over the past 10 months: we’ve now started to routinely publish diversity datasets for our registers (pharmacists and pharmacy technicians), as well as specific diversity datasets for the three countries that we regulate; we’ve been working to minimise the risk of discrimination and bias in fitness to practise decision-making (with the introduction of several process changes, to identify any potential issues around discriminatory behaviour by the person raising the concern or issues with referrals being used as a retaliatory measure) and we’ve published new equality guidance for registered pharmacies.

In November, we brought together key stakeholders from across the pharmacy sector, to discuss how racism manifests and affects pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and how this can have a resulting impact on patient care. The report on that event and the associated actions will be published soon. We also launched a discussion paper on our proposal to strengthen decision-making guidance for fitness to practise committees, to help eliminate any potential discrimination in the outcomes of hearings. This guidance makes it clear what we mean by discrimination, bullying and harassment, and how seriously concerns of this nature will be taken.

We published some new advice to help anyone with a disability, mental health or physical health issue, get the support they need and remove or reduce barriers when using our services. For our staff, we developed a new guide and toolkit, to help assess the impact of policies, including how to take an intersectional approach to impact assessment and to use data and evidence effectively. 

We’re continuing to support the Inclusive Pharmacy Practice (IPP) work, which is a joint initiative with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, and a number of partner organisations. Inclusive pharmacy practice focuses on making the workplace more inclusive for pharmacy professionals, with a senior leadership that reflects our diverse communities, to improve health inequalities in the population. Read our most recent contribution to the IPP bulletin on diversity in senior pharmacy leadership.

You can read about all of this work and more in our recent report to our Council, which includes detail about our EDI activities as a regulator and an employer.

Inclusive care for LGBTQ+ patients

In this special edition, we’re also highlighting the crucial role that pharmacy teams play in addressing the health inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ communities including barriers to accessing healthcare, experience of prejudice and discrimination, and poorer health outcomes.

Read our article with the LGBT Foundation, with includes materials for individual or team-based learning to develop knowledge and confidence around LGBTQ+ inclusivity in pharmacy, and how this links to our standards for pharmacy professionals in terms of providing person-centred care.

In this further article, we’re also looking at the important issue of inclusive care for trans and non-binary patients, specifically gender identity services for children and young people who are experiencing gender incongruence and dysphoria and the role of pharmacy teams in this context.

There is growing interest in how the NHS should most appropriately assess, diagnose and care for children and young people who present with gender identity issues. All children and young people deserve safe, timely and supportive healthcare services, and professionals with the training and expertise to meet their healthcare needs. Children and young people with gender incongruence or dysphoria must receive the same standards of clinical care, assessment, and treatment as every other child or young person accessing health services. They must also be able to access the appropriate level of psychological and social support as any other child or young person accessing services for their healthcare needs.

In the article, we look at what pharmacy teams need to consider when providing care in this context, including on a range of important issues from professionalism and professional judgement, personal values and beliefs, confidentiality, consent and effective communication, and partnership working.

Patient Safety Spotlight

We look at managing the risks associated with providing community pharmacy clinical services and what GPhC standards should be applied to ensure pharmacy teams are delivering safe and effective care.

Using an example of a community pharmacy setting up a blood pressure check clinical service, we highlight best practice, and set out the key elements of the standards which should be applied when setting up and providing this service.

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