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The NHS has asked hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups, general practices and community pharmacies to conduct risk assessments within two weeks to ensure safety of vulnerable staff including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers.

In a letter to the employers last week, the NHS directed all organisations to finish the risk assessment of all BAME staff members within a month.

The letter has asked the employers to publish data on their staff including,

• Number of staff risk-assessed and percentage of whole workforce.

• Number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff risk assessments completed, and percentage of total risk assessments completed and of whole workforce

• Percentage of staff risk-assessed by staff group

• Additional mitigation over and above the individual risk assessments in settings where infection rates are highest.

The letter added that the information on the implementation of risk assessment should be shared with the healthcare workers including pharmacists.

“We also ask that these data become part of your board assurance framework (or equivalent in a primary care context) and receive board-level scrutiny and ownership. For primary care providers, this would be a senior partner or the business owner as the employer with overall responsibility for their workforce,” the letter pointed out.

All primary care organisations remain legally responsible for securing appropriate occupational health (OH) assessments including staff risk assessments for their employees.

The employers may continue to use customised tools developed locally with their BAME networks.

In a response to the NHS letter, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) on Monday (June 29) said that it expects healthcare organisations, including pharmacies, to take necessary Covid-19 risk assessments to ensure the safety of their BAME staff members.

Ravi Sharma, RPS Director for England, said: “We are pleased to see NHS England taking swift action following the findings of our survey. Risk assessments are essential to ensure that pharmacists and their teams are safe and protected at work. Employers have a duty of care to their employees and we hope to see them act responsibly and take action in response to this letter as a matter of urgency.

“We know the risks of serious complications from Covid-19 – including death – are higher for those from the BAME community. Now is the time for action from employers to build confidence across the profession that this issue is being tackled. ”

The latest letter by the NHS follows an RPS and UK Black Pharmacists Association survey which found that over two-thirds of BAME pharmacists had not had workplace risk assessments for coronavirus.

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