Workers in healthcare supply chains are to be protected under new anti-slavery laws thanks to extensive lobbying by the British Medical Association (BMA).
BMA council chair Mark Porter has welcomed the new powers set out in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for England and Wales, which he believes will help enforce ethical practices in national and international healthcare.
The Act, granted royal assent on 26 March 2015, will see the creation of an independent anti-slavery commissioner, as well as strengthening existing laws by: (i) introducing life sentences for those guilty of the most serious trafficking and slavery offenders; (ii) tougher asset confiscation for those convicted of slavery or trafficking; (iii) the creation of trafficking and slavery risk and prevention orders aimed at restricting the actions of individuals likely to cause harm; and (iv) ensuring the protection of victims of slavery from criminalisation through a statutory defence.
Mr Porter said: “The BMA is pleased that the Government has legislated within the Modern Slavery Act to encourage transparency in supply chains of UK medical goods and imports.
“If major suppliers of healthcare goods strive to ensure fair and ethical practices in the manufacture of their products, then the potential impact on global supply chains is vast.
“The BMA is at the forefront of campaigning for ethical trade in the NHS. There is an uncomfortable paradox in providing healthcare in the NHS at the expense of workers’ health in its supply chains.”
More information about the BMA’s role in ethical procurement is available on the BMA website.