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NHS Supply Chain Labour Standards Assurance System (LSAS)

Back in September 2012 the NHS Supply Chain released its framework for the ethical procurement of surgical instruments, the Labour Standards Assurance System.

Surgical Holdings were one of the first companies in the UK, to achieve level 3 on the framework. As a manufacturer of surgical instruments, LSAS is a really positive opportunity to responsibly manage your supply chain and ensure there is continual, objectively assessed improvement.

The new Surgical Instruments framework has now launched (February 2017). This framework covers:

● Single Use Surgical Instruments and Single Use Surgical Instrument Packs
● Reusable Surgical Instruments
● Scalpel Blades, Scalpel Handles and Disposable Scalpels
● Single Use Suction Tubes
● Self-Retaining Retraction Systems
● Sterile Single Use Plastic Forceps

The NHS Supply Chain is continuing to help surgical instrument suppliers meet LSAS contract conditions as a key part of its Ethical Procurement Strategy.

The Labour Standards Assurance System (LSAS) was introduced, in collaboration with the Department of Health, as part of this framework, aiming to continually improve labour standards management and mitigate risks. The LSAS is a unique selling point, part of a pioneering approach to include ethical procurement considerations for surgical instruments. The surgical instruments framework sees NHS Supply Chain go even further in its labour standards assurance, and highlighting its commitment to ensuring quality instrument suppliers.

The LSAS has so far been effective, with clear expectations and practical milestones that must be met as a contract condition. All awarded instrument suppliers are required to have a level 2 LSAS in order to trade via the framework, they are also supported towards achieving level 3. Level 3 requires suppliers are audited or visited objectively, to ensure LSAS is achieving tangible results, through improvement in labour relations, child labour and health and safety.

The LSAS places the responsibility on the suppliers to demonstrate they have effective systems in place. Surgical Holdings have been accredited to level 3 on the LSAS NHS Supply Chain framework agreement for Reusable Surgical Instruments.

LSAS Level 3 accreditation means that Surgical Holdings have to ensure any suppliers highlighted through LSAS as a potential labour risk, in the Supply Chain, are objectively audited by an independent auditor, who is suitably accredited in Social Accountability auditing. Surgical Holdings are also audited in the United Kingdom by SGS to ensure we are improving and proactively acting on any feedback from these audits. We believe there is no way to objectively improve unless an independent audit is carried out, utilising the LSAS framework as an assessment model. In addition to the benefits through the supply chain, employees at Surgical Holdings in the UK are also a key focus of LSAS.

Surgical Holdings are also members of the Association for British Healthcare Association, the Surgical Instruments SIS Group worked with NHS Supply Chain as part of the 2012 and 2017 Surgical Instruments Framework Agreement to launch its Labour Standards Assurance System. The ABHI feature the progress made with LSAS in their recent Surgical Instrument purchasing and care guide, which has been received well by the industry.

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 commented from the instrument quality perspective, as this has also been a concern for patients in relation to surgical instruments manufacture:

“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 framework agreement has the potential to save £1.8million by next year.

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Hayley Reeve

Hayley is a digital content marketer for Surgical Holdings. An award winning manufacturer and repairer of high quality surgical instruments. She enjoys reading up on the latest medical technology.