The BMA has highlighted the dangerous working conditions in Pakistan that lie behind the manufacturing of surgical instruments purchased by the NHS. At the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, the BMA is calling on the NHS in Scotland to adopt new guidance on ethical purchasing.
The BMA's Medical Fair and Ethical Trade group has just launched an information campaign telling doctors about the dangerous working conditions and child labour evident in the production of NHS medical supplies. The BMA has been working with the NHS in England to produce guidance on ethical purchasing which will soon be published. The BMA is now calling on the Scottish Government to adopt similar guidance in Scotland.
Speaking at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, Dr Mahmood Bhutta, advisor on the BMA's Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group said:
"There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions. Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions where they risk serious injury and even death. For example, many surgical instruments are made in Pakistan where workers work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Some suffer serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety. There is also a use of child labour, with some workers 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."
"We want to work with the NHS and the industry to make positive changes. Fair trade is not just about the products we purchase, it is also about things that are purchased on our behalf."