The British Medical Association has claimed that surgical equipment used by the NHS may be exploiting child labour in its manufacture.

The BMA has published guidance for doctors in England shedding light on evidence that NHS instruments are being made in developing countries, raising concerns over the ethical purchase of goods by the health service.

Following its publication in England, the BMA will urge the Scottish government to adopt similar guidance.

“There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions,” said Dr Mahmood Bhutta, adviser on the BMA’s medical fair and ethical trade group.

“Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions where they risk serious injury and even death.

“We want to work with the NHS and the industry to make positive changes.”