28 January 2010 | Amy Rowe
UK doctors are to be educated on purchasing ethical medical supplies to prevent the possibility of products involving child labour and poor conditions entering NHS supply chains.
It follows a survey by the British Medical Association (BMA), which revealed that many health professionals responsible for purchasing hospital goods were not aware of fair trade options.
Of the 383 doctors questioned, around 20 per cent were responsible for buying medical equipment, but only 10 per cent knew about fair and ethically made medical supplies including surgical instruments.
A new website, fairmedtrade.org.uk
, funded by the government and the BMA, will give medical professionals advice on purchasing ethically sourced goods.
As part of the guidance, doctors are asked to question healthcare suppliers on where and under what conditions they manufacture products.
Mahmood Bhutta, an adviser on the BMA’s Medical Fair & 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.”