General practitioner England

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BMA helps GPs back fair NHS purchases

A BMA guide to help GPs champion fair and ethical standards in NHS commissioning published this week.

Fair Medical Trade

The booklet suggests ways in which GPs can use their influence on CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) to make sustainability principles key part of purchasing choices.

It aims to encourage GPs involved in commissioning to consider the impact of procurement decisions beyond their immediate population to foster improvements in the working conditions of those in the UK and the wider world.

Your checklist

Ethical Procurement for GPs and CCGs suggests CCGs can:

  • Achieve a formal consensus at board level to support ethical procurement. This has been done by the City and Hackney CCG, London
  • Give a CCG member responsibility for ethical procurement
  • Ask providers during the tendering process to show what they are doing to ensure labour standards in the supply chain of their goods.

GPs not actively involved in their CCG can:

  • Write a joint letter from their practice to the CCG, raising the issue of ethical procurement and asking what it is doing about it
  • Discuss with colleagues how to incorporate ethical standards in a practice, such as fair-trade products
  • Write to suppliers and ask what their ethical procurement policy is
  • Screen the BMA campaign film The Human Cost of Healthcare to colleagues.

Unique position

GPC commissioning and service development subcommittee chair Simon Poole said: ‘Doctors enjoy a unique and privileged position in society and have a professional and vocational responsibility to promote the health and well-being of the most vulnerable in society in the context of a global economic environment.

‘Clinical commissioners, as doctors who manage significant budgets, have a particularly important role to ensure that these principles are at the heart of NHS procurement and commissioning arrangements. 

‘I welcome this guidance as a step in the journey to inform doctors and managers in CCGs and the wider NHS of the impact that can be made through a commitment to ethical procurement.’

Fresh reports

BMA medical fair and ethical trade group founder Mahmood Bhutta said: ‘Only a few weeks ago there were fresh reports of dangerous and illegal working conditions in Asian factories making medical gloves and surgical instruments. 

‘The problem of unethical labour conditions in the manufacture of healthcare products is bigger than we had ever imagined.

‘It’s time for the NHS to stand up and be counted; it’s time for us to follow in the steps of so many other organisations, and to say that protecting labour rights is a value that the NHS holds at its core.

‘CCGs are the financial guardians of the NHS — they can steer us down that path.’

 Read the guide

The Human Cost of Healthcare

DVDs of the film are also available. 

 Please email [email protected] with your details to receive a copy