Racism and language barriers in pharmacy – insights and actions following our roundtable events

The General Pharmaceutical Council has published new reports on racism and other inequalities in pharmacy following our roundtable event.

Our roundtables focused on ‘Racism in Pharmacy: Accountability Counts’ and ‘Language Barriers and Health Inequalities’. Both were part of a series of virtual equality roundtables, to help shape our regulatory work, informed by the experiences of our stakeholders. 

Attendees included a wide range of pharmacy related organisations, patient groups, equality groups, providers of translation services and software, as well as individual pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and wider teams from different sectors and settings. We also welcomed attendees from outside of pharmacy, including those working in wider health and care settings, policy think tanks and researchers.

Recent EDI related work

The roundtable events link directly to our commitment in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy to use our standards to proactively tackle discrimination within pharmacy and to support pharmacy teams to provide person-centred and inclusive care, reducing health inequalities in the communities they serve. 

After the roundtables, we published an analysis of diversity data of professionals involved in the GPhC managing concerns process, which revealed some statistically significant over and under-representation of some groups at different points in the process (albeit in many cases this is based on small numbers). We’ve also now published a more in-depth analysis and report of the datasets linked to the roundtable themes and discussions. Our Council also recently approved new guidance for GPhC decision-makers when discrimination features in allegations we are considering. This guidance reinforces how seriously we take racism and will be published shortly.  

Language barriers have been considered in our Equality Guidance for Registered Pharmacies. The guidance highlights the importance of accessible and inclusive services and sets out examples of how pharmacies can overcome language barriers, and how to manage risk in this context.

EDI insights and case studies

As part of our wider EDI work and relevant to what we’re hearing at the roundtables, we have been able to examine different ways in which EDI can be relevant in a pharmacy setting. We share these insights and case studies from our regulatory work through our inspection knowledge hub and other relevant external sources, to help pharmacy teams meet our standards and think about how they can deliver inclusive care, reducing health inequalities in their communities. 

To support learning in the pharmacy team, take a closer look at our equality snapshots on a range of characteristics and health inequalities linked to age, disability, gender identity and sex, as well as more detailed case studies on specific topics such as risks of prescribing and supplying hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  

We are continuing to develop these insights and will look at other protected characteristics in the future to see how different characteristics and issues intersect. We encourage all pharmacy teams to read the insights and case studies to support the delivery of inclusive care. 

GPhC Chair, Gisela Abbam said:

“Thank you to our speakers and attendees for listening and contributing to these important discussions around racism in pharmacy and the language barriers that some people can face when trying to access pharmacy services.

“It was also a welcome opportunity to hear about different approaches from other organisations and regulators who are committed to eliminating bias and discrimination in the decisions they make.

“Having honest, open conversations with a wide variety of people is helping us shape our regulatory work, informed by the experiences of those who work in, and have experience of pharmacy.

“But we have to remember, it is not purely a pharmacy problem, nor a health problem - it is a much broader system problem. It is important we acknowledge that, and do what we can to tackle racism and barriers wherever we find them.”

We will be holding further EDI focused events later this year. You can find out more about EDI at the GPhC on our website including reports and case studies.