Being committed to partnering with its suppliers to improve labour standards throughout the supply chain, the NHS Supply Chain (NHS SC) has introduced ethical requirements which are reviewed as part of an independent Labour Standards Assurance System (LSAS) audit.
Developed by NHS SC, in conjunction with the Department of Health and industry bodies, LSAS provides an extra level of corporate, social and ethical governance with regards labour standards, marking a major but progressive change in its procurement methodology.
Initially piloted on the Surgical Instruments Framework, NHS SC has added additional areas for LSAS compliance within its contract portfolio.
By actively working with suppliers on LSAS to manage and monitor labour standards, the NHS SC reduces the potential for labour standards abuses to go undetected and unresolved, so helping suppliers to develop rectification plans and, ultimately, to drive improvements within the supply chain.
As a result, Trusts can buy from NHS Supply Chain, confident in the knowledge that NHS SC suppliers are proactively managing labour standards within their supply chains.
What are the benefits?
LSAS has 4 levels of maturity:
Within 6 months of contract launch, suppliers must provide the NHS SC with proof of audit compliance against a minimum of LSAS Level 1 Foundation before their products can be purchased by NHS Trusts through the NHS SC Framework; with subsequent deadlines for suppliers to achieve compliance to the higher LSAS levels.
As an SA 8000-accredited certification body, LRQA is accredited to assess NHS suppliers against the four different LSAS levels. Each LSAS level has clear goals that guide suppliers through the subsequent levels, with additional support from NHS SC to assist suppliers through the auditing process.
LSAS compliance certified by LRQA means that suppliers show commitment to industry responsibility and continuous improvement, while NHS Trusts can demonstrate to stakeholders that labour standards are being effectively managed within their supply chains.
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