To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference the report entitled, Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19' published by Public Health England, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the safety of pharmacists from (a) BAME backgrounds and (b) other vulnerable groups; and if he will make a statement.
Employers in the National Health Service and in the community pharmacy sector have a legal responsibility to protect workers from risk to their health and safety. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect their workers from coronavirus. Their risk assessment should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, for example because they are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background. Supporting guidance is available, including from NHS Employers. In line with the guidance, NHS organisations are considering a range of mitigating actions, including redeploying staff into alternative roles, and measures such as additional hygiene measures, stringent fit testing procedures for personal protective equipment (PPE), equity of PPE provision and training, and improved occupational health support. The Department has met with bodies representing community pharmacies to set out the legal obligations of employers and point to supporting guidance.