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National pharmacy bodies have urged community pharmacy teams to join their efforts to deliver an inclusivity plan, which aims to reduce health inequalities and provide equal healthcare services to all.

The disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on healthcare staff and communities from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds prompted the NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) to jointly publish the inclusivity plan last week March 10.

The plan focusses on addressing vaccine hesitancy and reducing health inequalities to embed inclusive practice into patient care.

Joint plan for inclusive pharmacy practice in England focussed to “work collaboratively to develop and embed inclusive pharmacy professional practice into everyday care for patients and members of the public, to support the prevention of ill-health and address health inequalities within our diverse communities,” the bodies said in their statement.

According to a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) data, 44 per cent of pharmacists and 13 per cent of pharmacy technicians are from BAME backgrounds.

Hasmita Patel, a pharmacist for K&W Healthcare Limited in Brent, West London says one of the most pressing issues she has noticed is the need to build trust in communities.

She currently works in a Covid vaccination centre in the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden.

As a project manager, her main role has been managing pharmacists in the centre and the vaccinations process. She is also promoting the uptake of the vaccine in BAME groups.

“It’s really important to raise awareness. We’re in an area that’s got a very diverse population but the people coming in are not necessarily representative of the population we cover, so more needs to be done,” Patel said, elaborating the need to promote inclusivity in healthcare services.

Bola Sotubo is a Primary Care pharmacist at Mile End Hospital and also a co-contractor at A-Z Pharmacy in West Croydon, London. She says around 90 per cent of the local community she serves in West Croydon are from a BAME background.

“We understand the cultural differences and we try and adapt the way we communicate with a patient.

“We are surrounded by a mosque and several churches. We’re also members of the business community here too, where our job has been helping people to understand healthcare services but also the work we do in our pharmacy.”

Combined together, Bola and her staff speak eight different languages – something which has become a vital asset in their day to day work.

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