In an interview with C+D, Chair of the Pharmacy Forum NI, Sheelin McKeagney said “it is key to ensure BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) team members feel safe in pharmacy including getting people to be more mindful.”

Mr McKeagney told C+D that Pharmacy Forum NI “absolutely condemns any discrimination, be that racial, sectarian, disability, sexual orientation or in any other way,” in light of pharmacist Nkele Mushapho speaking out in June 2020 about her experience of racism in Northern Ireland – including from patients in the pharmacy.

According to the 2019 PSNI Equality Monitoring form, just under 97% of registered pharmacists responding identified as White. Other ethnic groups identified included Black Caribbean (0.1%), Chinese (1.6%), Indian (0.6%), Black African (0.1%) with 0.9% identifying as Other ethnic groups. The PSNI shows that in relation to the BAME community, pharmacy seems to have a higher level of BAME representation than the NI community as a whole.

Although the percentage of BAME pharmacists in Northern Ireland is very small, it is significant for the profession’s development, particularly in terms of the current important need to attract and retain pharmacists to come and work in Northern Ireland. In this context, the Forum has a key role to play in cultivating an open and inclusive work environment.

As the professional leadership body, the Forum is keen to ensure it has a formal policy outlining its abhorrence towards any form of racism. Plans are underway to set up a working group which will provide guidance on different ways to embrace and actively promote inclusion and diversity in pharmacies in Northern Ireland. We will be seeking to ensure BAME members voices are included as an integral part of the group, which will be led by the newly appointed Forum Vice-Chair, Eamon O’Donnell.

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Click here to read the full interview