Bissell, Paul and Anderson, Claire (2002) We are puzzled. Pharmaceutical journal, 269 (7223). p. 676. ISSN 0031-6873

We have found the furore surrounding the collection of data relating to ethnicity in the pharmacy workforce census somewhat surprising and are writing in support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in conducting the census.

Debate about the collection of data on ethnic origin dates back to the 1970s and 1980s when it was suggested that questions on ethnic origin should be collected in the 10-yearly national census. At the time, some feared that collecting data on ethnic origin might be used by racist agencies to discriminate against minority ethnic groups. The notion that local and national agencies cannot act against discrimination unless they know they extent of it ? thus requiring the collection of such data ? is now widely accepted in most areas of public life. That is not to suggest that forms of discrimination on grounds of race, colour or ethnicity are a thing of the past, but that basic data are needed in order to track this.

Our sense is that the Society is attempting to look at different career patterns and working conditions experienced by different ethnic groups. This seems to be a highly laudable aim and we are puzzled and saddened by the difficulties some pharmacists seem to have with this.

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