The work of the Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group (MFETG) is groundbreaking, and its
success may just show the way forward for other countries.
Set up in 2007 in response to concerns of unfair and unethical labour practices in the manufacture of surgical instruments and textiles, the group investigates, promotes, and facilitates fair and ethical trade in this area. Its work has led to the first ever guidance on fair and ethical procurement in health products, published by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency.
The group won the Corporate Social Responsibility category at the BMJ Group Awards 2009.
Dr Mahmood Bhutta, project adviser to the MFETG and specialist registrar in ear, nose, and throat surgery at the Oxford Deanery, says: “This award is fantastic recognition of all the work that various members of the group have put in.”
Dr Bhutta says the group’s biggest achievement has been working with the NHS to develop the first national guidance anywhere in the world on fair and ethical procurement in health products.
“By April, all hospitals in the NHS should be asking suppliers of all products to the NHS what the labour conditions are in the manufacturing of the various products they make, and this will apply to £20bn worth of goods every year,” he says.
“We also hope other countries will look at the guidance and follow its example.”
Dr Bhutta and Olivia Roberts of the BMA have led much of the work, but many others have helped the group, including the Department of Health, the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, the NHS Supply Chain, and the Association of British Healthcare Industries.
Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group