Mounting evidence indicates that in some cases the basic employment rights of individuals producing products and goods used in healthcare are being infringed. There is an uncomfortable paradox in providing healthcare in the NHS, at the expense of other individuals’ health elsewhere.
We are a group of medical students and members of Medsin-UK, a student network striving to tackle global and local health issues and inequalities, working in collaboration with the Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group. Our aim is to promote ethical procurement in NHS Trusts across the UK, in accordance with the principles outlined in the Ethical procurement for Health workbook. We also aim to engage the international community of medical students to investigate and promote ethical procurement for healthcare on a global scale.
The issue truly surprised us. The possible culpability of the NHS, an institution of pride for many of us, was deeply alarming.
Over the past two years we have been in contact with procurement and sustainability officers at Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust in London to discuss how the trust can become a pioneer of ethical procurement. We have received and also sought advice from public and private sector officials, including NHS Supply Chain.
But it is clear to us that for our campaign to progress requires collaboration, and that’s where you can help.
We believe the start of making ethical procurement practice a reality is formulating a National Ethical Procurement Policy, which we hope will be adopted by all NHS trusts. This will prevent suppliers having to meet multiple demands from trusts across the UK.
This policy will contain practical steps hospitals and procurement departments should take. Examples may be: asking suppliers to map their supply chain (beyond first tier suppliers) and reporting on progress in their annual reports.
We want to learn from you and would appreciate your help in producing this national policy. We are looking for suggested clauses, how to tackle challenges or even if you would like to join a support network for people trying to introduce ethical procurement.
Medsin will also be launching a national campaign to raise awareness and look forward to your responses.
☛ Martha Martin is the co-founder of the Ethical Procurement Group Medsin
☛ To find out more contact Martha at email@example.com