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NHS to save £1.5bn using supermarket technologies, according to eProcurement strategy released by Government today

07/05/14 - GS1 UK welcomes the publication today of the Government’s eProcurement Strategy, which underlines the fundamental requirement for GS1 standards in smarter NHS procurement.

GS1 standards enable purchasing and logistics efficiencies and improve inventory management. They have been used in retail for nearly 40 years and are estimated to save the industry approaching £11billion per year. By providing a common language for identifying, locating, moving and trading medical supplies and assets quickly, adoption of these standards in the NHS is estimated to deliver savings in procurement costs, making a significant contribution towards the overall procurement savings target of £1.5bn by 2015-16.

The eProcurement strategy sets a timeline for the adoption of GS1 standards in NHS procurement and GS1 UK is committed to providing Trusts and their suppliers with the information, resources and training they need to meet these targets. The strategy also includes plans for a GS1 NHS Datapool to provide visibility of purchasing across the NHS to ensure the purchasing efficiency of the service as a whole is maximised.

In the short-term Trusts will need to develop a GS1 adoption plan in the next financial year. GS1 UK will support Trusts by producing template plans which will be shared through the newly launched website. The site also provides information on the steps that Trusts can take now to smooth the path to adoption of GS1 standards.

Meeting the guidance provided in the eProcurement Strategy will be included in the NHS Standard Contract and GS1 coding is already incorporated into the standard terms and conditions for the supply of goods to the NHS.

GS1 UK will support suppliers and trusts to ensure that the eProcurement Strategy not only delivers increased value and better care into the NHS but also enables manufacturers and suppliers to realise the supply chain and security benefits of the system.

Lord Hunt, President of GS1 UK comments: “The eProcurement strategy highlights the value of GS1 standards to the healthcare supply chain. Currently our standards provide a consistent language for identifying, locating, moving and trading medical supplies and assets quickly, helping to save time and money in the healthcare supply chain. By mandating these standards and holding trust board members responsible for implementation we will increase efficiency and productivity across the NHS, reducing paperwork, freeing up budget and crucially allowing staff to spend more time caring for patients.”

Simon Walsh MCIPS, Head of Procurement and E-Commerce, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS FT added: "The GS1 system has enabled the retail supply chain to undergo transformational change over the last 40 years and similar transformation is now needed for NHS procurement. The mandate for GS1 coding and an NHS Datapool should serve as a clear call for our suppliers to adopt GS1 standards to identify the products and services we buy."

GS1 standards are already being used in parts of the NHS for patient identification (barcoded wristbands) to reduce administration and treatment errors caused by inaccurate identification. In the NHS Number for baby (NN4B) programme they are used to allocate NHS numbers to new-borns and in various inventory management applications including the tracking of surgical instruments through the decontamination process.


Notes to Editors

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About GS1 UK

For more than 35 years GS1 UK has been working with its members to enable the efficient movement of goods and sharing of information. It drives supply chain efficiency alongside 111 other not-for-profit GS1 member organisations in 150 countries worldwide.

Having introduced the first truly global bar code numbering system in 1973, at least five billion GS1-compliant bar codes are now scanned everyday – making it the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world. GS1 identification numbers are now also commonly used in RFID tags, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) messages and for real-time global data exchange.

Providing independent support, GS1’s team of technical and business consultants also assist members with on-site implementation of appropriate supply chain information solutions.

Its 28,000+ UK members range from SMEs to major UK companies and include grocery retailers and food service companies, food manufacturers, healthcare and pharmaceuticals companies, and NHS Trusts. Its supervisory board includes senior directors from Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as Unilever, P&G, Diageo and the NHS.

GS1 UK actively supports The Food Chain – a UK charity set up to ensure that people living with HIV can access the nutrition they need to lead healthy, independent lives. For more information, visit