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Ethical procurement a key part of surgical instruments framework

Tuesday 21 February 2017

The launch of NHS Supply Chain’s new surgical instruments framework highlights its strong commitment to ethical procurement. With an estimated 80-90% of surgical instruments being manufactured in Pakistan, NHS Supply Chain continues to support suppliers to meet LSAS contract conditions as a central part of its Ethical Procurement Strategy.

Back in 2012 when the framework was first launched, NHS Supply Chain introduced the Labour Standards Assurance System (LSAS) in collaboration with the Department of Health, to enhance the identification of issues, remediation and continuous improvement of labour standards management. This formed part of a pioneering approach to include ethical procurement considerations into the tender for surgical instruments and has provided a blueprint for other product areas.

The new surgical instruments framework sees NHS Supply Chain go even further in its labour standards assurance and highlights its commitment to quality suppliers. As with the previous framework, all 29 awarded suppliers are required to have level 2 LSAS to trade on the framework and will be supported to help them achieve the milestone to level 3. In addition to this commitment, the new invitation to tender required ISO13485, BS standards and involved product testing by an external organisation, the Surgical Materials Testing Laboratory (SMTL).

Stephanie Gibney, Ethical and Sustainability Manager at NHS Supply Chain said: “We are committed to transparency and embedding ethical procurement, and have been working closely with our suppliers through the Labour Standards Assurance System. Our new surgical instruments framework supports and extends our work in this area and helps suppliers to further develop policies and processes to meet requirements in line with International Labour Organisation conventions and the UK Modern Slavery Act.”

Paul Sroden, Vascular Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust added: “Poor quality surgical instruments increase the risk of surgical site infections and complications – equating to increased patient care and additional cost to the NHS. Having a National Supply Chain and Quality Assurance Programme for Surgical Instruments allows for an independent expert to be closely involved in selecting supply lines, ensuring they meet the quality standards required and helping improve patient safety.”

The new framework in more detail:

LOT 1   Single Use Surgical Instruments and Single Use Surgical Instrument Packs
LOT 2   Reusable Surgical Instruments
LOT 3   Scalpel Blades Scalpel Handles and Disposable Scalpels
LOT 4   Single Use Suction Tubes
LOT 5   Self-Retaining Retraction Systems
LOT 6   Sterile Single Use Plastic Forceps

Alongside ethical procurement, helping trusts realise savings remains a key priority for NHS Supply Chain. The framework agreement has the potential to deliver £1.8million of savings by 2018.  To ensure customers confidence in the suitability of products selected and the product grouping, price and quality were key considerations in the tender process. To this end, an E-auction was held for LOT 1, assessing supplier pricing and product quality. As of May 1, 2017 LOT 1 products will be rationalised with the top 5 awarded suppliers for a 12 month period offering customers a competitive price with the added value of quality inspection.


Media enquiries:

Jennie Brice-Boutard (NHS Supply Chain)
07714 043 391

Joanna Morrison
07776 457 201

Notes to editors

About NHS Supply Chain

Follow us on Twitter: @NHSSupplyChain

All information in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

NHS Supply Chain is operated by DHL and managed by the NHS Business Services Authority. It supports the National Health Service (NHS) and other healthcare organisations in England and Wales by providing end to end supply chain solutions.

The organisation was formed in 2006 from the NHS Logistics Authority and parts of the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA). The initial contract which was due to expire in October 2016 has been extended for a further two years until October 2018.

NHS Supply Chain is working closely with the NHSBSA, to build on the savings already achieved to deliver £300m of the opportunities for procurement efficiency savings as highlighted in Lord Carter’s interim report: Review of operational efficiency in NHS providers.

NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products and food for over 1,000 NHS Trusts and healthcare organisations. It provides a single point of access to over 316,000 nationally available, transactable lines ranging from bandages to sutures, from gloves to implants, and surgical equipment. In addition, it can help you plan your investment in medical capital equipment such as MRI scanners, linear accelerators and patient monitors.

Its management of the procurement process negates an NHS organisation’s need to tender through the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Costs can also be reduced through its one-route solution that consolidates all products onto one invoice and delivery.

To ensure that its products are fit for today’s healthcare market, NHS Supply Chain works with suppliers of all sizes to ensure its range embraces high quality and innovative products; and engages with clinicians, the Department of Health and academic institutions to make sure that it is aware of the current requirements and latest developments in clinical practice.

NHS Supply Chain’s product areas include:

  • Theatres
  • Dental
  • Audiology
  • Catering, including food
  • Infection control
  • Orthopaedics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Capital equipment, including finance and maintenance.

Based in Alfreton, Derbyshire, UK, the business employs over 2,400 staff across seven sites.  

Delivering value to the NHS