Media should contact the BMA Press Office on 0207 383 6254 or pressoffice@bma.org.uk

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL: Time: 00:01:00 Date: Monday 16 May 2011
New guide launched to improve ethical standards in NHS purchasing

The BMA, in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)1 and the Department of Health, today (16 May 2011) launched ‘Ethical Procurement for Health’2, a practical online toolkit to help UK health organisations improve the working conditions in which goods for the NHS are produced.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, advisor to the BMA’s Fair Medical and Ethical Trade group, said:

“The BMA has previously highlighted the poor labour standards and the use of children in the manufacture of goods bound for the NHS. I have visited Pakistan and have seen workers producing surgical instruments in terrible conditions. Many work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, some suffering serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety.

“The publication of ‘Ethical Procurement for Health’ aims to make ethical considerations part and parcel of purchasing decisions so that the lives of workers in the developing world are not put at risk to make products to treat UK patients.”

Peter McAllister, ETI’s Executive Director said:

“We are pleased to work with the BMA to launch this guidance, which demystifies ethical trade and breaks it down into practical steps, backed up with a wealth of tools and resources. It will be an invaluable resource for NHS procurement staff.”

Health Minister, Simon Burns added:

“Safe, effective care and the respect and welfare of people who work to supply goods and services must be at the heart of the NHS.

“This workbook will help the NHS to identify and tackle abuses of workers’ rights wherever they occur. I encourage and expect all NHS organisations to follow the principles set out in this workbook to help limit the potential for labour standards abuses and contribute to the health and wellbeing of people around the world.”

Commenting on the benefits of introducing ethical purchasing in the current economic environment, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Director of Professional Activities at the BMA, said:

“The NHS is experiencing a very challenging economic environment, but this cannot be used as an excuse to continue to exploit overseas workers. It is perfectly possible to use the buying power of the NHS to not only save money, but to improve the plight of those who manufacture the products we use to treat patients.

“There is also evidence that providing decent working conditions can lead to increased productivity and improvements in the quality of products because of a boost in workforce morale and better worker retention.”

Ends

Notes to editors

1 ETI (www.ethicaltrade.org) is a ground-breaking alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. Its members work in partnership to improve the working lives of poor and vulnerable people in supply chains who provide goods and services – anything from sewing staff uniforms and assembling workplace equipment to providing cleaning and catering services.

2 You can download an overview of ‘Ethical Procurement for Health’ at: https://mfetg.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/eph-overview.pdf and find about more about fair medical trade at: http://www.fairmedtrade.org,uk

Release Date: Monday 22 Feb 2010

BMA calls for an end to child labour in surgical instrument industry

 

 

The BMA has today [Monday 22 February 2010] highlighted the dangerous working conditions in Pakistan that lie behind the manufacturing of surgical instruments purchased by the NHS. At the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, the BMA is calling on the NHS in Scotland to adopt new guidance on ethical purchasing.

The BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade group has just launched an information campaign telling doctors about the dangerous working conditions and child labour evident in the production of NHS medical supplies. The BMA has been working with the NHS in England to produce guidance on ethical purchasing which will soon be published. The BMA is now calling on the Scottish Government to adopt similar guidance in Scotland.Speaking at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, Dr Mahmood Bhutta, advisor on the BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group said:

“There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions. Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions where they risk serious injury and even death. For example, many surgical instruments are made in Pakistan where workers work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Some suffer serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety. There is also a use of child labour, with some workers as young as seven. It seems perverse that labourers around the world are risking their lives to supply us with equipment to save British lives.”

He added:

“We want to work with the NHS and the industry to make positive changes. Fair trade is not just about the products we purchase, it is also about things that are purchased on our behalf.”

Ends

Notes to editors

Further information is available from the Fair Medical Trade website

 

 

You can download the information leaflet that supports the campaign at:

 

 

There is also a facebook group for people who want to keep up with the latest information on the campaign: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=100302445242

and a video clip slideshow on BMAtv: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8JHbPVy8Gg&feature=youtube_gdata

Pictures of the working conditions in Pakistan are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thebma/sets/72157623300246830

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL: Time: 00:01:00 Date: Wednesday 27 Jan 2010

BMA calls for action to eliminate child labour and dangerous working conditions in the production of NHS supplies

The BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade group is today (27 January 2010) launching an information campaign telling doctors about the dangerous working conditions and child labour evident in the production of NHS medical supplies.

 

The information campaign has been launched in response to a BMA survey of 383 doctors which found that whilst eight in ten doctors are supportive of the NHS purchasing goods that are ethically sourced – only one in ten doctors is aware of fair and ethically made medical supplies.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, BMA advisor on the BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group said:

“It is clear from this survey that doctors are very supportive of the idea of the NHS buying ethically sourced products, but more needs to be done to raise awareness.

“Some of the workers in the developing world making medical supplies bound for the NHS are exposed to hazardous working conditions where they risk serious injury and even death. There is also evidence that children as young as seven are risking their lives to supply us with equipment to save British lives.

“The survey reveals that two in ten doctors are involved in purchasing decisions. We want to provide doctors with information they need to encourage the NHS to look at alternatives so that the lives of workers in the developing world are not put at risk making medical supplies for the health service.”

The BMA has launched a new website,

The BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group is calling on doctors to:

Ask their chief executive to adopt ethical procurement into their institution’s policy

Ask healthcare suppliers where, and under what conditions, they produce their goods

Form an “ethical trade interest group” in their institution

Tell others

The BMA has also set up a facebook group which provides a forum for discussion of fair and ethical trade in medicine.

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA perception survey took place in October/November 2009. It was based on the results of 383 completed interviews of UK doctors.

 

 

 

 

www.fairmedtrade.org.uk provides a hub for information on the ethical procurement of medical supplies and an information leaflet that challenges doctors to get involved by asking them to consider four simple actions.

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL: Time: 00:01:00 Date: Monday 23 Feb 2009

BMA launches campaign to promote fair trade of medical supplies ahead of Fair Trade Fortnight

The BMA today (23/02/09) launched a campaign to promote fair trade in medical supplies ahead of Fair Trade Fortnight (23 Feb – 8 March). The campaign1 calls on healthcare workers and the public to contribute to the NHS consultation on ethical purchasing. 

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, BMA advisor on the BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group said:

“There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions. Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions where they risk serious injury and even death. For example, many surgical instruments are made in Pakistan2 where workers work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Some suffer serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety. There is also a use of child labour, with some workers as young as seven. It seems perverse that labourers around the world are risking their lives to supply us with equipment to save British lives.”

He added:

“Fair trade is not just about the products we purchase, it is also about things that are purchased on our behalf. Taxpayers have an opportunity to tell the NHS they want medical equipment purchased in line with fair and ethical trade guidelines. The NHS body responsible for advising GPs and hospitals on the purchasing of medical equipment has recently produced a consultation document on this issue. I would urge anyone who cares to submit a response to that consultation.”

Ends

 

Release Date: Monday 02 Jun 2008

BMA raises concerns about unethical manufacture of surgical instruments

The NHS should use its influence to reduce unethical practices in the surgical instrument manufacturing industry, the BMA says today (Monday 2 June, 2008) in a new paper.

 

The NHS purchases millions of pounds worth of medical equipment every month, much of which is manufactured in developing countries like Pakistan.

International labour reports have found that working conditions in surgical instrument factories are unsafe and unhealthy, with evidence suggesting that injury and exposure to toxic and corrosive chemicals are common. The BMA paper expresses concerns about child labour involved in some sections of the industry, and says that although there have been efforts to improve conditions, further change is needed.

There is little awareness in the NHS of the origin of surgical instruments, partly because they are usually exported via companies such as those in Germany and USA, the paper says. It calls for more to be done to ensure they are ethically procured, but acknowledges that the problem is complex and that underlying issues of poverty and lack of alternative employment need to be addressed.

Dr Terry John, chairman of the BMA’s International Committee, says:

“People are increasingly aware of the importance of buying fair trade products, and they deserve to know more about the origins of the surgical instruments that are used when they go for an operation. We need to try to ensure that they are ethically procured. This is a complex issue but the NHS can exert its influence on the supply chain by calling for improved conditions.”

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency is currently working on guidance on ethical procurement in the healthcare sector. However, purchasing decisions will ultimately rest with individual NHS trusts, and the BMA believes they need to become more aware of the origin of the equipment they use.

View the full paper at:

http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/content/fairandethicaltrade

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