Sandra Gidley

President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Sandra Gidley says the RPS is “extremely disappointed” that a government-commissioned review into racism has concluded the United Kingdom is not an institutionally racist country.

In the report published on Wednesday (March 31), the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said the UK was not yet a “post-racial country” and that it should be regarded as a “model for other white-majority countries.”

“Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities,” Tony Sewell, the commission’s chairman, said in a foreword to the report.

The 258-page report said: “The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism. Too often ‘racism’ is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.”

The RPS president took exception to the report’s assertion that ‘very few’ of the “impediments and disparities” that existed within the British society were directly related to racism.

“While the report focusses on the health inequalities experiences by Black, Asian and minority communities, we are extremely disappointed in the reports’ playing down of institutional racism across the UK,” she said, adding: “There are many determinants of health, as evidence shows there is a complex interplay of deprivation, environmental, physiological, behavioural and cultural factors. These health inequalities are further driven by social context such as structural racism, which is well documented.”

‘Missed opportunity’

Gidley dismissed the conclusion of the report by calling it a missed opportunity “to give a voice” to those who experienced racism.

“It had a unique opportunity to lead on real and lasting, positive change. However, the tone and content of the report unfortunately leads us to conclude that this has been a missed opportunity.”

Gidley continued: “We at RPS have been listening carefully to the experiences of our diverse membership to better understand the racism they face, both within their professional and day to day lives.

“The lived experiences of our members simply does not concur with those made in the commission’s report. Institutional and systemic racism still has an impact in society and is notable within the pharmacy profession, particularly in the over-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in Fitness to Practice cases and the differential attainment gap for black pre-registration pharmacists.”

The report was ordered by prime minister Boris Johnson’s government after widespread Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer, triggered by the death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States.

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