Turning concern into action
Posted on 5 November 2012 by Vivienne Nathanson and Stephanie Ashmore
The BMA film, the Human Cost of Healthcare, features Kabir, a boy who has worked in the surgical instruments industry since he was 8 years old.
He explains how his hand was crushed in industrial machinery.
The BMA film, the Human Cost of Healthcare, features Kabir, a boy who has worked in the surgical instruments industry since he was 8 years old. He explains how his hand was crushed in industrial machinery.
The film also shows working conditions in makeshift factories where people work in dark, cramped and dangerous conditions. The film is shocking but it is not enough to feel shocked or sad about the plight of kids like Kabir when we have it in our power to make a difference.
The BMA strongly believes that providing health care in the UK should not be at the expense of labour rights of workers who manufacture medical products for the NHS. We also think healthcare workers have the power to change the way the NHS buys supplies.
Since uncovering shocking conditions in the production of surgical instruments in Sialkot, Pakistan, back in 2006, the BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Campaign has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the labour standards abuses it has uncovered in medical product manufacturing.
Developing the online Ethical Procurement for Health Workbook last year was a significant step forward. It gives NHS organisations step-by-step guidance to start identifying poor labour standards and taking action through the procurement process and engagement with suppliers.
Last week, the BMA and Department of Health released more training resources to support NHS staff. The NHS, with its huge purchasing power, has the potential to become a leader in ethical procurement in the public sector and ultimately improve the lives of workers around the world.
Doctors have shown strong support for the campaign - recent research showed that 88% support the BMA campaign for NHS organisations to adopt an ethical procurement strategy.
As the people that use medical products, healthcare professionals can be very powerful advocates for change in their workplace.
In response, we have developed advocacy tools to help these aims, including the short film. We are calling on healthcare professionals to campaign for their NHS organisations to purchase medical supplies ethically as well as share and discuss the film with colleagues to raise awareness.
Raising these issues with the Chief Executive, Board and Procurement teams of organisations can begin to change procurement practices and drive improvements.
We've also developed an online training course on ethical procurement for NHS staff - why not take 10 minutes to complete the module and improve your knowledge?
By supporting this campaign you have the potential to improve not just your patients’ lives but those of workers overseas who are risking their health to make products for the NHS - whether that is immigrant workers manufacturing surgical gloves in Malaysia, women sewing nurses’ uniforms in India or children making surgical instruments in Pakistan.
Find out how you can take action - visit fairmedtrade.org.uk