The governments in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland gave the following responses to Panorama: Surgery's Dirty Secrets.
Northern Ireland's Business Services Organisation (BSO) told Panorama in a statement:
"The procurement process for surgical equipment in Northern Ireland -
Business Services Organisation, Procurement and Logistics Service,
carries out the procurement activity for all Health and Social Care organisations in NI. Surgical instruments are in the main used by the five acute hospital HSC Trusts and are procured for them by the BSO PaLS.
Procurement of all equipment is governed according to the various levels of expenditure. The DHSSPS mini-code allows for local competition at the lower level spend moving to EU competition on the appropriate higher level spend.
In some cases NI has scope to utilise a range of existing UK based contract arrangements and/or conduct its own competitions as is appropriate.
Products of British Standard and source of production/child labour - BSO, Procurement and Logistics Service will purchase goods to EU / British Standards.
In terms of the source of production BSO, Procurement and Logistics Service has for some years been attentive to the issues of 'ethical procurement' which covers the issues associated with child labour.
By way of example a recent tender exercise competed by BSO, Procurement and Logistics Service has required all tenderers to confirm their adherence to the
Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI)
base code of conduct.
A spokesperson for NHS Wales said:
"The safety of all patients in Wales is of paramount importance. Procurement of goods and services used in the
NHS in Wales
is done on an all-Wales basis. We are aware of concerns regarding the quality of some reusable and single use surgical instruments, having seen the report produced by Tom Brophy, the Head Technician at the Department of Clinical Physics at Barts and the London PCT. The trend data from this surveillance programme revealed instrument reject rates of 25%.
In response to these findings, the Welsh government established a group to review arrangements in Wales, which is currently reviewing the governance arrangements which support individual surgeon choice and the decontamination of instruments, and has considered how any future concerns about instrument quality can be escalated by the Welsh government to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Scotland's Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement:
"National Services Scotland procure equipment on behalf of the NHS. All national contracts awarded by
have to meet specific terms and conditions and require that participants operate and apply ethical standards. These conditions apply to all parts of the supply chain. National procurement can and does request documentation that these standards are being adhered to and can take action if any company is found to be in breach."
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told Panorama in a statement that the programme's findings would be investigated.