Scottish doctors urge fair trade buying policy

29 June 2011

29 June 2011 | Angeline Albert  

Doctors are calling on the Scottish government to implement a pre-election pledge to prevent unethical purchasing in the National Health Service.

The British MedicalAssociation (BMA) yesterday urged the Scottish National Party (SNP) to adopt a fair trade buying policy, in particular for the purchase of NHS surgical instruments. Junior doctors, consultants, medical students and retired doctors were among the 500 members of the BMA who voted for the association to lobby NHS trusts and GP consortia to buy all surgical instruments from suppliers that pay employees a fair wage.

In its election manifesto, the SNP promised a new bill for Scotland to introduce social and environmental clauses in procurement contracts. Before the vote at the BMA’s annual conference in Cardiff, Dr Sally Winning, joint deputy chair of the BMA in Scotland, told association members: “I would urge them [the SNP] to include fair trade procurement for surgical equipment in their considerations.”

Winning’s speech highlighted dangerous working conditions and the existence of child labour in the manufacture of some surgical instruments made in Pakistan. “There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions,” she said. “There is also a use of child labour, with some workers aged 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.”

The Scottish government has yet to agree specific action on a fair trade buying policy.

The BMA is also pushing for the coalition government to adopt such a policy, although the Department of Health has produced an ethical buying toolkit for purchasing staff, together with the BMA. 

A spokeswoman for the BMA said: “We have been lobbying the SNP and the UK on adopting a fair trade procurement policy and will continue to push for this.”   

Calderbridge, Seascale
£52,518 - £64,233
GBP40000 - GBP50000 per annum + Package + Bonus
Bramwith Consulting
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates