There was huge turnout and overwhelmingly positive feedback for Pharmacy Forum NI’s first webinar on Diversity & Inclusion in NI Pharmacy – Creating the right Culture, which took place 23 March on the theme: The case for inclusion and handling race. Almost 70 participants joined, with 98% indicating in the event poll that they found it of excellent or very good value.
We were joined by the Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee, Colm Gildernew MLA, who in his opening remarks spoke of the contribution of pharmacy during the pandemic:
“On behalf of the Health Committee, we very much appreciate the input that pharmacy has here, the very particular set of skills, but also the compassion and the care they have for their communities and the fact that they often go above and beyond the call of duty.”
He further commended the event theme and continued to engage throughout the evening on the issues raised by our speakers.
In her intervention, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer (CPO), Cathy Harrison, referred to the Pharmacy Workforce Review launched by the Minister of Health in November 2020, the recommendations of which are ambitious and have the potential to be truly transformational for the sector in Northern Ireland. Over 1,110 new roles will be needed in the next five years including over 600 technicians and over 500 pharmacists, which the Pharmacy Futures NI search and recruitment campaign aims to support.
Referring to the personal account shared by speaker and C+D editor Naimah Callachand, the CPO informed participants that throughout her career, she had worked in over 30 community pharmacies across NI and England and acknowledged there is an issue of discrimination in the sector. She supported the advice to ‘catch it, call it, change it’ recommended by keynote speaker Mark Fenton and welcomed the approach towards ‘allyship’ advocated by speaker Lola Dabiri, NI & Scotland lead, UK Black Pharmacists Association.
Mrs Harrison concluded: “This is our pharmacy family. Let’s take a stand.”
Event moderator, Eamon O’Donnell, Forum Board Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Champion stressed that the Forum would continue to build momentum around creating a more inclusive pharmacy practice in NI to reflect and support our changing workforce and population.
While this is only the start of what we hope will be a positive journey for the profession, the Forum is pleased to show leadership and facilitate space for this important agenda. The announcement made on 11 March for a Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice in England – is a positive reinforcement that we are in sync and moving in the right direction with the broader profession and health service.
More information related to the Diversity & Inclusion in NI Pharmacy Webinar 1 including speaker presentations and the event programme: