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Diversity, equality and inclusion

As the second Inclusive Pharmacy Professional Practice roundtable event takes place, Liz Fidler discusses how APTUK is working to support its commitments.

As the second Inclusive Pharmacy Professional Practice roundtable event takes place, Liz Fidler discusses how APTUK is working to support its commitments

At the time of writing, I am thinking about the ‘Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice in England’, which the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) have jointly led, supported by key pharmacy organisation partners. This was published in March 2021 following the discussions held at the first Inclusive Pharmacy Professional Practice (IPPP) roundtable event in August 2020.

By the time you read this article, we will have had the second IPPP roundtable event and I cannot believe a year has passed since the first. To prepare for this event, I’ve been reflecting on what has changed, what needs to be done and my personal journey.

Assess and plan

As president of APTUK, I am in a privileged position to be able to use my leadership skills and platform to strive to ensure that the professional leadership body is reflective of the profession and to support meaningful change. To be truly inclusive, we need to understand the demographics of the profession we serve.

APTUK undertook a data collection exercise via a membership questionnaire that concluded on 30 June 2021. It was the first time the organisation has ever collated this data and we will use it to review our representation and create an action plan to address any issues. We can see from the General Pharmaceutical Council register that the profession is diverse, but the APTUK Board did not reflect the demographics of our profession. Our first action has been to work towards changing that. 

I am pleased to say that we have restructured our executive committee and recruited a paid post using an external recruitment agency that is equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) compliant. It was an eye-opening learning moment for me for limiting unconscious bias. We recruited our first EDI executive, Shamma Baig, and we are also about to advertise for a member observer – so keep an eye out if this may be of interest to you. I would be delighted to have more community pharmacy technician senior leadership representation on the committee.

Long-term sustainable change

In addition to our IPPP commitments, APTUK has created a calendar of events, which is incredibly helpful in assisting with educating ourselves and becoming more culturally aware. By ensuring we do not run events on key celebration or religious days, we are able to be inclusive and this is a tangible outcome to support us on our journey.

We also supported South Asian Heritage Month and our executive committee, led by Shamma, is further developing our EDI strategy, including plans to support EDI allies in our branch networks.

I do believe APTUK as an organisation is delivering long-term sustainable change, but I will not be the judge of the success of that, nor do I underestimate how much critical change and work is required. But we are making those first essential steps.

On a personal level, I have had the great pleasure of spending some time with the Right Honourable Stuart Lawrence. His style of education not alienation has enabled me to have brave conversations and not be scared to say something for fear of saying the wrong thing. 

There is much more to do. I am still educating myself and I encourage you to do the same.

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