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Health: Ethical Sourcing of Equipment

Volume 702: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they have had with the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency regarding ethical sourcing of surgical instruments; and [HL3867]

What discussions they have had with National Health Service trusts regarding ethical sourcing of equipment for clinics, hospitals and surgeries. [HL3868]

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) is looking carefully at the issues surrounding ethical procurement on the department's behalf. NHS PASA has engaged with a number of key stakeholders inside and outside the healthcare sector on the wider issue of ethical trade and recognises the need for a collaborative approach to addressing the issues meaningfully and sensitively.

NHS PASA and NHS Supply Chain have been active members of the British Medical Association Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group since its inception in August 2007, established in response to specific concerns over labour standards in surgical instrument manufacture.

In November 2007, the department and NHS PASA issued Procuring for Health and Sustainability 2012: A Sustainable Procurement Action Plan for the health and social care sector in England. Copies of this publication have been placed in the Library. Within this action plan, NHS PASA and NHS Supply Chain have committed to working with relevant partners to map the supply chains of two commodity areas including surgical instruments. This will aid in the understanding of the social impacts and ethical issues associated with National Health Service procurement. The healthcare sector will be kept informed of the progress.

An ethical procurement framework is being developed in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative, including supporting materials with a target to launch this autumn. The work will seek input from representatives from procurers in the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the devolved authorities.

NHS Supply Chain has introduced a supplier code of conduct which clearly outlines requirements for ethical trading. It has communicated it to all its current surgical instrument suppliers and has introduced it as part of the selection process for the contract renewal due in October 2008.